Sunday, October 27, 2013

For the love of birds

Olivia's love of birds and her desire to have one for a pet has continued unabated. So, a few weeks ago, Nicholas and she ordered some bird houses and paint to build and paint together. Of course, they got one for Leo, too! This was a big project, and took a couple of weekends to totally complete as you can see by the changes of clothes (and weather) in the pictures! The pictures really tell the story:

Sanding the wood pieces to get them ready for painting. All three of them got in on it!

Notice that the kids are doing something else while Nicholas put the birdhouses together. The birdhouses took more effort than expected!

Leo is becoming a bit of a spit fire! Look at that look!

How do you like these smocks? Ha! Nicholas volunteered some old T-shirts! We started painting Leo's birdhouse so that we could test it and not ruin Olivia's since Leo doesn't care!

It was hard for me not to help!

My job was to smooth out the globs!

Nicholas is really patient with Olivia when she is 'helping' him!

Leo's birdhouse is painted and Olivia had her colors lined up and ready!

But, first, the bird feeder!

So excited that her bird feeder is done!

Leo could have kept right on painting!

A couple of weekends later...we hung them on the fence. Nicholas had to add the brackets to the back.

Following Daddy up the hill to find the perfect spot.

Does this look like a good spot?

Sure, Daddy!

Do these look okay?

"I sure hope some birds come and live in these."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Griffin Farms

Saturday, despite a rainy start, we headed over to Griffin Farms for their pumpkin patch and were pleasantly surprised by their petting zoo area, hay bales to climb, corn crib to swim in, and corn maze to walk through. All of that plus the hay ride out to pick out our pumpkin and the pumpkins cost $10 per person over two. Great deal! And we had a great time! The weather was a little cooler, so we actually felt like it was fall while we were doing our Halloween trip to the pumpkin patch! We would definitely go back! (Of course, it was no where near as great at Huber's in Indiana, and the thought did cross our minds that Stephanie and Brandon could do this with a spare ten acres on the Stemm/Bratcher property!)

The petting "zoo"!

Climbing and playing on the hay bales!

Olivia and Leo loving playing in the corn!

The corn maze!

Trying to get good pictures of the kids was tough!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ballet continues!

Olivia is loving her ballet class these days, and is learning so much! They are working on arabesque poses, pointing their toes, keeping their arms and knees straight, and are learning pieces of dances, are doing tumbling every other week for part of the class, and tap on the other weeks for part of the class. Here is Olivia with her friend and neighbor Mary Grace before class.

And this is what the dressing room looks like during class while the boys play! Leo and John are close in age and have fun with each other's toys.


Here are a couple of not-very-good shots through the one-way-glass from dance class:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Odds and ends

We've been really busy, I swear. I know you can't tell from the blog, but we've been to football games, to the science center, to a block party, and to birthday parties. Nicholas and the kids have done some fun projects and had some special time while I have been out for Moms' Night Out. We have Kindermusik and ballet each week, school on MWF mornings, and I am working one long day each week where I have a babysitter bring the kids home from school and put them down for naps, and I come home soon after they wake. I feel like time is passing in super speed. I will blog about the football game in conjunction with more of them later in the season since the pictures all kind of look alike. I'll also blog a separate post about the bird houses that the kids, Nicholas, and I built and painted once we get them hung outside.  In the mean time, here are some odds and ends of what we've been doing.

Halloween is upon us! Olivia saw this Halloween Gingerbread Kit in the store and said, "Mom! We haven't done one of those since I was two!! Can we get it, please?!" She was right. We did one last year. I can hardly believe she remembers! Obviously, the draw was the candy!

Not a bad finish considering that they really did help decorate and both were pulling at the icing bags while I was trying to decorate!

We were Booed! This was such a fun thing. One Saturday night at eight pm our doorbell rang, and when we opened it, we found a Halloween bowl full of treats but no one around! What a fun tradition! Our neighbor's daughter let it slip that morning, so I knew who it came from, but Olivia was surprised and excited. We passed on the tradition the next day and Olivia was SUPER stoked to get to surprise some of our neighbors. She giggled all the way home!

Right after bath time, the kids were excited for little Halloween pencils and notepads, a wand, a little firetruck, and some candy! The perfect treats!

And Olivia settled on a Little Mermaid costume for Halloween. Here is her first try-on!! I think she might go back and forth between this one and her Cinderella costume from her birthday depending on what party/event we are attending. She really wants both. She really just wants to wear them all the time. Today she told me that Pinkalicious gets to wear her costume "out and about," so why can't she?

I just wanted to note how "into" reading Leo is now. He is almost as excited about reading as Olivia is, and he has the nightstand to prove it. I saw this the other evening and had to take a picture because it looked ridiculous stacked with all the books we read to him sometimes in one setting. He often takes a book into his crib with him now before going to sleep.

The little bookworm will often crawl up into the rocker and say, "Myself! Myself!" to let me know that he wants to read on his own for a while before I read to him.

When I was taking these pictures, Olivia decided that she needed to place the picture of herself that she put on Leo's nightstand to show more prominently! Ha! Leo loves this picture of Olivia, and this morning went to her room to get the dress she is wearing in that picture and gave it to her to put on! Cute!

We LOVE the McWane Center in Birmingham, and are so glad we decided to get a membership. Olivia asks to go a lot! We have tons of fun when we do get up there. These pictures show just a few of the things we do there. They also love looking at the fish tanks, blowing huge bubbles, playing in the kids' play area, moving balls with water or air, and lots of other fun hands-on science stuff!

Looking at a huge system of balls moving at the entrance to the science center.

Building a carbon structure.

Leo is talking a LOT! Here is one of his longer words that he is using frequently now:

 This is for the non-Facebook grandparents: Olivia posing in the outfit she chose, wearing a crown she and I made from tinfoil and beads, decked out in a ton of blush, starting to stand on her tip toes, grinning from ear to ear!

And just one more to represent all the beautiful mornings and evenings we have had at a playground. I love Alabama's mild weather...even though I wish for a bit of fall before the rainyish winter we get!  This playground is not our normal one, but isn't too far away and is a great one for playing pretend!