Things that Make You Go Boo!!

I have to admit that this year, as big as my intentions were, I just didn't get into the Halloween crafts - I am hoping to make up for it with plenty of Christmas decorations.

But in playing along with the SITStahs - and in my meager attempt to win myself a lovely new (and badly needed) camera, I thought I would repost my Jack Blue-o-lantern from last year. 

(my boys wouldn't let me carve a pumpkin this year, all the pumpkins that came through our door required paint!!)

I had big plans - it was going to be elegant and pretty...and then Hubby stepped in.

"I want something more traditional" he said

"fine, pick out a stencil online and I will carve it"

this is what he picked...

Now I ask you...since when is Blue (of Blues Clues fame) a traditional Halloween Jack O Lantern?!

And do you know how hard it is to transfer from flat piece of paper to large round pumpkin...and then to carve it?

The worst part, after the darn thing was carved once, I had to carve it again.  I hadn't gone through enough of the incredibly thick skin for the darn thing to glow, and hubby wanted to be sure the boys saw how cool it was when it was glowing.


Images of Halloween Past

I wish I had better pictures of this costume - it was so cute (and the shell was removable).  
But my little turtle, moved more like a rabbit, and picture were hard to obtain.

It was Tommy's 2nd halloween, and I was 3 months pregnant with Jack

We walked for what seemed like miles trying to keep up with this turtle

We were all tired, happy, and full of sugar when the night was over.

I am hoping for a repeat this year 
(well, no turtle, one more child to chase, and a few months further along in pregnancy, but basically the same thing, right?!)


Head on over to SITS
see ghosts images of other halloweens past
share some of your own
And try to win a
Canon Rebel T2i
(or don't and give me a better chance)


Keeping Healthy, Body and Mind

Raising two boys is hard.

Not only do I have to ensure their safety

or at least try to....

It is also my job to make sure that they have good food to eat...

By which I mean healthy food...

And that their minds and bodies are provided what they need to grow into strong healthy young men!

Getting little guys to do what is best for them is not always the easiest task.  We have learned through much trial and many errors to get them involved and make it as fun as we possibly can!!

When it comes to snack time we always try to ensure there is a variety available to them.  The boys know that they can have any fruit or vegetable that they would like (that we have in the house).  It is not uncommon to see Tommy munching on a carrot or two, while Jack is snacking away on some grapes or an apple.   

Dinner time we find we struggle a little more, they are offered only what has been made for the entire family (no special separate meals are prepared for them), and they get a serving of everything that we have.  I do not, however, believe that meal time should be a fight.  So there is no yelling or arguing about what they do or don't like, they are expected to try a bite of everything, 90% of the time there are at least two things on their plate they discover they like. (Tommy was shocked when he realized that cooked carrots are good, and will eat a plate full, Jack has learned that broccoli is one of the best foods ever and will often try to steal an extra piece or two off of Mommy's plate). We also have a rule that once they are done eating there is no nighttime or bedtime snack until all the dinner dishes have been done and the kitchen has been cleaned, if they leave the table still hungry (because they didn't eat everything) they are learning they will just have to wait until we are ready, and then its either fruit, cheese and crackers, yogurt, or some other healthy option we have in the house (we do let them decide what they would like for a snack).

Sometimes it is hard to stick to this, sometimes it is easier to just order a pizza that we know everyone will eat and have some cookies, and sometimes we do (sometimes we even just have ice cream for dinner), but we know that if we make and try to stick to a general plan that most of the time our boys will be eating what is good for them and what they need to grow.

Keeping their minds and bodies nourished, beyond food, is the harder task, for me anyway.  We make reading fun, offer rewards of trips to the Children's Museum after reading for so many hours (right now we are at 10 hours for Tommy and 5 hours for Jack).  We are lucky that they are both so excited to learn, they love to just pick up a book and read it.

I also make a point to encourage them to play creatively - there is no wrong way to paint a picture (or a body!!), build a building, or layout the train tracks.

Trying new ways to build and design encourages them to look at their world in many ways.

We turn to group sports (soccer...woo hoo) to help keep their bodies moving

And we let them play and explore with the neighbors kids with their bikes on our little street, and in the sand, grass, and dirt of our yards.

Everyday is a challenge to find ways to keep them growing healthy in mind and body, and many days we don't succeed.  There are times where the TV keeps us company as we lay about, or our eating is more about filling our stomachs that feeding us what we need. But as a family we try as best we can to keep us all growing and living well.  

What about your family?  What do you do to nourish your children, body and mind? Do you have rules or routines that you follow to keep your kids growing strong?


Cheerios Blogger Circle

I am posting this as a part of the Cheerios Blogger Circle.  Check out the Cheerios fan page on facebook and see what other bloggers have to say.

Menu Plan Monday 10/25

Trying to get back into meal planning for the week.  I had been pretty diligent about planning our meals most of the summer and it worked out so well for us (we ate better and spent less, amazing how that happens).  I figured it was time to get back to planning and thought playing along over with the Tip Junkie would be a great way to get motivated (and maybe get ideas).

Monday: Classic Pot Roast (w/carrots, celery, potatoes) - crock pot recipe

Tuesday: Homemade Clam Chowder (dinner by myself and perfectly happy about it - I will be posting this recipe later this week - it has taken me several tries over the past couple of years to get this one just how this New England girl likes it)

Wednesday: Roast Whole Chicken, Rosemary New Potatoes, Steamed Green Beans

Thursday: Pasta w/arugula, mozzarella, and cherry tomatoes (a favorite that I discovered this summer - super easy and really tasty!!)

Friday: Brown Sugar Spiced Pork Loin, Easy Risotto, Steamed Broccoli

Saturday: White Chili (Crock Pot recipe)

{Not a very exciting week - the biggest obstacle is planning around my hubby's hockey games - I have to keep meals pretty basic when he has hockey otherwise he feels sick the whole game)


Mommy Guilt

I think I finally understand why mothers are notorious for giving their children "guilt trips".  For the first few year of life (and I am sure for much longer after that) there are so many things that we can (and many of us do) feel guilty about.

This pregnancy is kicking my butt these days. I try not to complain much about it, I know how blessed I have been and how blessed I am, but right now its all I can do to stay awake and feel good.  I found out at my last appointment that I am "severely" anemic, my midwife made the comment that she was surprised I was even able to stay awake for the appointment (there was a nap involved earlier in the day to ensure that I would).  This is in no way a dire diagnosis, or anything threatening to me or the baby, and its very very treatable (iron pills twice a day and a reconsideration of my current diet), it also explains a lot, as this results in my being extremely tired, which I have no doubt is having a serious impact on my mood and ability to mother.

Earlier this spring and summer I was active with the boys.  We took walks to the playground and the library, trips to the zoo, outings with friends, and worked on our garden.  In the last couple of months it has been all I could do to wake up.   They have become used to me falling asleep on the couch after they have eaten breakfast. (Tommy actually told me the other day I don't have to apologize for falling asleep - I felt bad that he even felt like he had to say that).  And I know my patience has suffered - I am a lot less tolerant and quicker to anger - something 2 & 4 year old boys don't need.

Last Friday was almost a rock bottom type of day for me.  After having gotten a good nights sleep (seriously - fell asleep around 10 Thursday night and didn't get up until 7!!!) I couldn't keep myself awake. I lay on the couch in the playroom - and dozed on and off for the rest of the day.  Tommy was at preshcool, but poor little Jack just had to sit there and entertain himself, while mommy slept.  He was so good that day, woke me to tell me he was hungry at lunch time, let me lay him down for a nap when he needed it (which gave me a chance to sleep some more).  But by the end of the day, when I was actually awake, I couldn't help but feel bad.

Now, I am wracked with mommy guilt.  Feeling bad that I don't do nearly as much with my boys as I should.  Feeling bad that I rely on TV too often to keep them occupied.  Feeling especially bad for Jack, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays its just the two of us at home.  Other than trips to the store, we are no longer doing any fun outings or any fun projects at home.  Feeling like I am letting them down.

Yup bring on the mommy guilt.

I am hoping that the iron pills help and I am trying to retrain my body to sleep at a decent time at night.  I hope I can find my way back to the mother I used to be, find a little more patience and a little more energy and joy.  Until then though, I will sleep, feel guilty (and pack some of that guilt away to pass along to my boys in the form of guilt trips as they get older...)


WW: Apple Picking

We finally made it out apple picking this past weekend.  Headed out to our favorite farm with friends and kids and picked our fill!!

The boys had a blast, and we were blessed with an absolutely gorgeous fall day!!
{and the next outing we have I am going to hand hubby the camera for a little bit just so I can prove I was there!!}

sidenote: someone asked the other day how I get the rounded corners....I upload my photos to picasa and then from there edit in picnik - using the create option I give each pic a frame with rounded edges and save it.  Blogger makes it easy from there to then use the photos right from Picasa onto your blog.


On Support From Family

So this is something that comes up frequently when I talk with some of my other friends, and it seems like we are all in different places here.

My little family is blessed, my kids have 5 grandparents and no cousins, which means they are the object of much affection and attention. There have been times I have had to turn down grandparent requests to watch my dear boys simply because I wanted to spend the weekend with them. {although in my current state of fatty pregnancy I don't turn down those offers anymore!!}

My father (Papa) takes the boys 1-2 times a week.  If you follow me on Twitter - you know that in addition to his scheduled days, he has been known to stop by and just grab a kid or two, so that he has someone to go fly kites with!! (really he is just a big kid) When he is sick or on vacation we all feel it!!

So I know I am spoiled, but I will admit, as much as I "knew" I would have plenty of support I don't know that I ever expected it to the extent that we have it.  {hell, we live with my MIL right now, how much more support can we ask for?!}.

When we got pregnant for the first (and second) time we didn't really talk about who would take our kids on the weekend, it was never a discussion of what was expected of the grandparents.  We were willing to let them take their rolls as they felt comfortable and help out when they could.

We got lucky - we have grandparents that want to be part of every bit of our kids lives.  They go to soccer games, take them to dinner (even I don't take them out to eat!!), pick them up from school, and plan little day trips with them.  They are very much a part of their daily lives!!

But after conversations with some friends, and reading some comments on twitter and on blogs, I can't help but wonder, what its like for you...

What part do your parents and/or extended families take in your kids lives?
Are they active participants or more like by-standers?
Are they doing what you expected of them?
Did you or do you expect anything from them at all?


WW: A Walk In the Woods

Gorgeous, sunny, perfect fall day

A Monday holiday, a bonus day with Daddy

What is a family to do, but go for a walk in the woods

It was fun

It was as perfect a day as it could be

And it was exhausting to this Mama

(see I was actually there)

Can't think of a better way to spend a day!

Wordish Wednesday


A Big Lesson For Tommy

I wish I had remembered to bring my camera to soccer yesterday.  It was the biggest and longest game Tommy's team had ever played.  There ended up being around 10 players on each side and it was about 30-40 minutes long. (usually the games max out at 20 mins at this age). Yes it was (as Rachel describes) like herding cats, but all the little ones did so well and you can see how much they have learned this season.

I was so proud of Tommy.  He played the entire time (instead of running up to me every 3 minutes to tell me he is tired, wants juice, wants a snack). The only time he came to the sideline was during water breaks and I only had to talk to him for stopping to hug another player (his buddy Zac) once.  

Right at the end of the game Tommy fell and skinned his knee a bit.  He came over to me for a snuggle and that was it he was done.  Still I was proud, he played so long and did so well.  As he was sitting there I heard him mutter something like "I can't do it" but didn't think too much of it as he started talking with another child and still seemed happy.

And then we got in the car...

All buckled in, blanket in hand and I saw a few silent tears fall.

"I can't do it Mommy" {my heart started to break}

I asked him what was wrong.  Apparently he is struggling.  As the youngest on the team (he just made the cutoff for age), and one of the few who isn't yet 5 he is not quite as big and not quite as fast as the other kids.  At home, with his friends, he is often the fastest, something that he is proud of.  At soccer it is different and he doesn't like it.

"I'm not the fastest Mommy, I didn't win" {my heart continued to break}

He was crushed that he couldn't keep up with some of the bigger kids, and that he didn't score a goal.

On the ride home we had a long conversation.  We talked about soccer in general {it isn't a high scoring game} and I told him that Daddy will watch some soccer games on TV with him at home, so he could learn more.

Then we talked about him.  I told Tommy how incredibly proud I was of him that day, and how well he did.  We talked about how it is ok that he is smaller, that he's not the fastest.  We talked about winning and losing, and having fun.  We talked about practicing at home, with Daddy and Jack.  Learning how to handle the ball, building up his strength and speed.

But most importantly we talked about doing the best he could and being proud of himself for going out there every week, even when he's not the fastest.  We talked about how important it was to be there every week for his team, to try hard and have a good time.

This week I think Tommy learned a tough lesson at soccer.

This week was the exact reason I wanted Tommy in a team sport, as it is an important, albeit, hard lesson to learn.


WW: The Robot

It was raining

We were bored

So a robot was built

A tall one

And then the robot was photographed

And quickly knocked down

Because that's the fun part.

 Side note: do you know how hard it is to take pictures of little boys building and destroying a mega blocks robot? 

2nd side note: We had a pajama party all day today, don't judge, you know you're jealous :)


The Lists: Fun Fall Projects

I am determined to decorate for fall and halloween this year, but since our budget is severely limited I am trying to find some fun inexpensive ideas of different things I can make with items I already have on hand or those I can find for very little money.

5 Fun and inexpensive Halloween projects

1) Super cute wooden pumpkins - check out Crafty Chic Mommy's tutorial Here

2) Kelli at Random Thoughts of a Supermom always has some fun great ideas - I am in love with this Easy Halloween Frame

3) These Halloween Buddies are adorable!!  I know the supplies are within my budget - now lets just see if I posess the proper painting skills!!

4) I absolutely love this idea for a halloween costume - so fun and easy. I might even try to make the boys some fireman and policeman costumes like this for everyday fun!!

5)  This one is so fun and simple!!  I might even try to make these pumpkins with my boys this week while the rain keeps us inside. And if you want them bigger than the original check out how this blogger made hers.

Do you have any fall crafts you are going to try? Did you already post one to your blog?  I would love to see how you are decorating this year!!

I am going to keep looking for some fun fall decorations that aren't so Halloween oriented as well....but I figure this is a start!!!

Happy Tuesday all!!


Because Its Life's Not Always Roses

Sometimes things suck
And sometimes we decide what to share and what not to
Especially on a public blog
{regardless of how meager the following may be}

But honestly...

Sometimes things suck
And right now we are in that place
A place of suck
A place of trying to figure out what comes next
What happens next
And what to do next.

Sometimes things suck
And all we want to do it cry
Curl up under the covers
Sleep and ignore it all.

But no matter how much they suck
Life goes on
and motherhood never stops.

So we pick ourselves up
Have a big bowl of ice cream (currently Bryers Overload Waffle something or other)
And find things to make us smile like...

 New life 



And remind us how blessed we really are.