Saturday, March 31, 2012

What's Behind Those Eyes?

A lot of the time I have the thought, "If only I could get inside their heads, parenting would be so much easier!"   Penny, while very vocal, is at the age of being unable to express herself and her needs adequately.  As in, she can express herself, but we frustratingly don't always know what she is trying to tell us.  And we don't really know what she is thinking.  We can only guess, and wait for those awesome moments where she gives us insight to her thoughts.  While not being "inside their heads" can be frustrating, waiting and watching their little personalities and preferences unfold adds an element of surprise and mystery to our daily life.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Learning to Sew: First Big Project Done!

I have wanted to hang curtains in Cooper's room for two years, since we first moved in, but as it happened, life happened, and it was one of those projects that just didn't materialize.  As I have now completed three sewing projects on my own, I felt I was ready for prime time.

Then Nonnie (David's mom) was here over the weekend and more than willing to teach me a few sewing tricks and help me tackle a big project.  She brought with her lots of sewing tools and lots of knowledge and we set to work on Saturday morning searching via internet, planning and measuring to create the perfect curtain panels that would complement the sailing/nautical theme in Cooper's room.

I found this cool panel at Pottery Barn Kids...

The navy and white stripes reminded us of ship's flags, and those colors are found everywhere already in the room.  Cooper already has shipping flags that spell out his name over his bed, so we knew these panels would really tie in.  We decided against the beige stripe and grommets at the top, choosing instead to have equally wide blue and white stripes and to hang them via ring clips.  Then we opted to hang them right under the ceiling, as opposed to right over the window, for a more dramatic look. 

So from floor to ceiling, and accounting for seam allowances, three inch hems at the bottom and two inch hems at the top, this made for some loooong curtain panels and a lot of fabric!  Each panel, before being hung and hemmed would measure 98 and a half inches!  We encountered some technical difficulties, to say the least.  Getting each stripe (5 stripes per panel) to end up the same width AND match the opposite panel took A LOT of planning and measuring, and remeasuring.  Then there was a little discourse on curtain rod color and where exactly to hang it.  More than once David suggested it would be easier to just buy the curtains.  (I will post later on the lessons I learned while doing this project.)

My mind was already made up, however, and we were going to complete this project.  I wanted the satisfaction of completing the project, and I DID NOT want to pay Pottery Barn we pressed on.  Last night after supper,  the finish line was in sight...I had about 18 inches or so left on the bottom hem of the second panel to stitch when the bobbin ran out of thread and I had to rewind it.  FINALLY the last stitch was made.  Exhausted, I switched hats and opted to get the kids in the bath while David and his mom hung the final product...and WOW!  I think we accomplished what we set out to accomplish...What do you think? (Please forgive the bad photography...)

 THANK YOU AGAIN NONNIE!  I couldn't have done it with out you!

How did we do economically?  Well, had I taken the PB Kids route, two curtain panels would have cost me $180 plus shipping.  I spent $48 on fabric and thread to create these panels.  Not bad!  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

In Their Natural State

Penny just loves to love on her babies.  She  is talking in sentences a lot of the time now and will say "I take the baby!"

Cooper the contortionist...making trains go is serious business!  We are still amazed that playing with trains, whether they be big, little, or even littler, made of paper, made of play-doh, or imaginary never seems to get old for him!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Life with Picky Eaters

These two had fun feeding the birds at Ma-Mas' can I make feeding themselves more fun?
For someone that likes to cook, I get frustrated by my daily cooking duties.  Why?  Because even though I have a family of four, I typically only cook for two.  I heat things up or open and add a spoon for the other two. I have an ever expanding repertoire of tried and true recipes David and I enjoy, though nearly no recipes that work for Cooper and Penny.

I never saw the picky eating thing coming.. Both children as babies at solid food very well...even mashed peas, which made my stomach turn to prepare or even smell them. I thought I did a thorough job of introducing a variety of foods fairly regularly.  Around the age of two, however, Cooper quit eating everything except for about five foods.  I chalked this up to toddler-dom, especially when Penny came right behind him, rejecting everything.  Though Cooper is slowly accepting new foods now that he is nearly three and a half, I still have trouble feeding these kids!  What was a favorite last month isn't touched today!

Currently, what Cooper eats, or rather, has finally added back in over the last year and a half:

Grilled Cheese Sandwich (always)
Crackers with Cheese (sometimes)
Chicken (nuggets or grilled and cut up, and most of the time)
Steak (but this doesn't really count, b/c I am NOT preparing it that often!)
Wagon Wheel Pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese (sometimes)
French Fries (always)
Most Fruits (most of the time)
Yogurt (most of the time)
Pretzels/Crackers/Chips/Popcorn (always)
Nutri-grain Bars (most of the time)
Sugary Junk, when I allow it

That doesn't sound bad, except I can't get him to eat ANYTHING green, except for grapes, and NOTHING from above can be left over from the day before.  How he knows, I have no idea, but if I try to make a big batch of pasta, say, and give it to him two days in a row, he laps it up the first day but rejects it the second day.

Wait, it gets better:

What Penny eats, sometimes:

Chicken (nuggets or grilled)
Wagon Wheel Pasta (very rarely)
French Fries
Most Fruits
Coleslaw (occasionally)
Broccoli (occasionally)

Nothing on Penny's list, except bananas and french fries, are a guarantee that she will eat it.  I guess the positives are one, OCCASIONALLY she eats something green, and two she doesn't really like sweets except a sucker which she gets to help get ME through the grocery store.  (Notice "sugary junk" is not on her list.)

I used to sneak zucchini into banana bread...but then they quit eating banana bread, for example.  I've hit a wall and am at a loss for what else to try.  Not that it would do much good.  I think both of them WOULD eat more things if they would just condescend themselves to TRY them.

Anyone else out there with a picky eater?  What are some "outside the box" foods that work for you?

Friday, March 16, 2012

When You've Nothing Better To Do...

and the weather is nice, go exploring!  We spent an evening at a nearby park that we have been to at least 20 times...but on this particular evening, we discovered this...

So we took a new trail...

We weren't sure what we would find...

But the thrill of discovery, nature's beauty, and the exercise made us feel like this...

It's Spring!  Go outside!  You won't regret it!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Who I am...

Lately I have been asking myself, "If I were to put a more descriptive “about me” on this blog, what would I want people to know?"  Since the kids are down for a nap and most of my tasks for the day have been completed, I thought my post for today would answer exactly that.  Firstly, I am Leslie, mama to two, wife, home keeper, geologist, and blog writer.  Here is a list of seven more things that might be pertinent.  (The fact that I put an "about me" in a list probably describes me plenty, but anyway...)

1.       I live with my two super great kids, Cooper and Penny, and my equally great husband, David, who is often referred to on this blog (and real life) as Daddy. We live in South Texas and get to look at the sea every day.  I’m not sure we would live in South Texas if we couldn’t see the sea…

2.       I like my stay-at-home/work schedule.  I am a full time mom, and I am a geologist part time, as in, part-part time, like 10 to 15 hours a week.  This is a perfect setup; it gives me the awesome opportunity to be the mainstay in our kids’ lives AND I get to keep one foot in the door of my career for the day I go back full time.  And it keeps me from going crazy.

3.       I don’t have a super specific plan about when I will “go back to work full-time” and that is THE number one question I get asked by people. It sort of irks me…but I suppose I will not be able to change the world in its general view that stay-at-home-moms aren’t really working, so I try to remember to be confident and content with what I am doing and how it was the right decision for OUR family.  

4.  I like doing various activities with the kids, from visiting neat places to playing with play-doh to playing with trains (Coop's fav activity).  I also enjoy cooking, baking, D-I-Y projects around the house, reading, writing, and SOMETIMES I feel like doing something crafty.  Lately I have been into sewing.  When I get on health kicks, I like to run long distances. I am also up for anything that involves the outdoors, even if its just pushing the kids on the swings.  

5.       I have been writing this blog for nearly 3 and a half years, mostly as a way to keep our family in the know about our rapidly growing kids, but lately I have been wanting to do more with it and go in other directions.  I am not 100% sure why, how, or when I am going to do this. 

6.       We are currently living in the second house we have ever bought, and it is the second house we have invested time and money into fixing up. At the time we bought our first house, a 90-year-old D.I.Y.-er’s dream, I had never even painted a wall. Or landscaped.  Or had ANY idea how much home improvement could cost.  My husband, however, knows how to do almost anything, and his confidence that we could do it ourselves helped me to discover my inner do-it-yourselfer.   It’s been fun.

7.       I use this blog space as a means to chronicle our journey through life.  Having a Penny and a Cooper for my thoughts delights, amuses, and inspires me every day.  I hope a Penny (and Cooper) in your thoughts can delight, amuse and inspire you too.  Thanks for following along!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Where the Time Goes

 Recently I posted that Penny is now 18 months old and I marveled that time seems to just be slipping away.  Where does the time go? Lately, when I am not working or fully engaged as a mom,  I have been diligent about tackling my "To-Do" List for 2012, which  is my version of a new year's resolution.  This is filling in the few time slots I get to myself when the kids are entertaining themselves without any skirmishes (very rare) or asleep (less rare than when they were younger, thank goodness!). This includes various projects around the house, my learning to sew, and entertaining other interests of mine such as reading, writing, and cooking.  Here are a few things I can point to right now when I think, "Where has the time gone?"

I completed sewing project #2!  I made couch pillows to compliment the "coastal" theme we are striving for in our home.  The same weekend I did that, David hung the over-sized sand dollar I had been coveting on Pinterest for months.  
I love to try out new recipes, and I have a "system" for doing so. (That is not shocking to those that know me.)  Anyway, I have two categories for recipes that I try:  YUM!, I'll laminate this one, or DOESN'T WORK, and in the trash it goes.  Brutal, yes, but very effective.  This is one of the recipes that worked...Slow roasted tomato me for the recipe, its flavorful...and healthy!
This Eggplant Parmesan, though beautiful, went into the "trashed" category.  It was very labor  intensive but was a little bland...I can do better...I HAVE done better.  (Don't email me for this recipe...I don't have it anymore, I truly threw it right in the trash when I was cleaning up the kitchen after dinner.)
I love a good mom and I attended a Children's bargain basement sale recently and we scored this duplo table for a VERY reasonable you can see, it was a big hit with Cooper...and Daddy.  We also found a big bag full of vintage Fisher Price Little People for only $5...and that was a big hit with both kids!  Sidenote:  See that really cute old children's desk in the corner there?  My good friend Becky gave us that and we love it!  I love when old stuff can be incorporated into a home...just saying.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spring has Sprung!

We got a light cold front last week, and according to our weather man, it was the last one until next fall.  He had better be right.  I feel like I can let out a big sigh of relief with the sunshine and warm air...another winter, though mild in South Texas terms, has come and gone.  We plan on taking advantage of the pleasant weather as much as we can.  Cooper and Penny LOVE to be outside, and I can't think of a more healthful past time.  While the kids play, we are hoping to knock out some much needed landscaping while at home.  We are lucky that my grandparents' little ranch is just an hour away, so we can spend lots of time outside there.  Any opportunity for the kids to explore and run around is a good one!  

 What kinds of activities will you be doing this spring?