Tuesday, June 21, 2011

June 2011 Favorites

 Game of the month: Sneaky Snacky Squirrel.  This game is really similar to HiHo Cherry-o.  Scott and Janelle sent it to Creed for his birthday, and I promise that it is hard to resist its cuteness!  Creed loves it so much he got it for his friend Sara for her birthday too.  Simple enough for  a four-year-old to play and it helps work on small motor skills too.

App of the Month: The Three Little Pig 3-D story by Nosy Crow.  I'm not one to go gaga over Apps, but if you have a little one you NEED this one.  It's expensive, but it entertains Creed for ages.  It's a book, and the animation is incredible.  You can choose to have the story read to you or to read it yourself and you can interact with all the characters, flicking them in the air and flipping them around, and they say something different each time you tap them.  You even blow on the wolf to help him blow the houses down. The background moves when you shift the screen so it looks almost 3-D.  The characters are funny and they have the CUTEST British accents.  I'm dying to get my hands on the next storybook app they have coming out this summer, Cinderella, but it's hard to imagine how it could live up to this one.

Picture Book of the Month: We Are In A Book by Mo Willems.  We love all of Mo Willems' books, but this one in particular has Creed rolling on the floor with giggles.

Middle Grade Fiction book of the Month: Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool.  I hadn't even heard of it before it won the Newbery Medal this year.  It was hard to get me hands on it, but it was love at first read.  The award was well-deserved.

Young Adult Book of the Month: Delirium by Lauren Oliver.  Ok, yes, it is Hunger Games and Matched by Ally Condie rolled into one, but I still enjoyed it.

Sesame Street Clip of the Month: Creed never liked Sesame Street, but now he asks me to turn it on "for Ollie" and then he's glued to the TV, which enables me to sneak a little unpacking in or just some extra snuggle time with the boys.  Some of the cameos are so awesome.  This one might be Larry's favorite of the moment.  Conversations with Bert: Part 1, Andy Samberg

And don't miss Conversations with Bert: Part 2 with Andy Samberg

HEEELLLLLLOOOOOO Counter tops and cabinetry!

Our kitchen is far from finished, but what a difference a weekend makes!  Our counters were ready early so we were surprised by a knock at our door, 7 a.m. on Saturday.  Five installers got to work moving that incredibly heavy piece of quartz on the island and by the end of the day I was greeted by this sight.

And what's that in the background? A working fridge and freezer?  Wahoo!  We finally have milk in the house again!  Now if only we can get the sinks hooked up so we can have some drinking water . . .

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Step In The Right Direction

Riss was asking me for some updated pictures of progress on the house so the rest of you get a sneak peek too. On the bright side, things are really coming together and I'm going to try not to focus on some of the problems that we still have to work out.

Here's a picture of the old laundry that's right off the kitchen.  It will be a butler's pantry soon. (see that light, I'm not talking about it)
 And speaking of the kitchen, the wall is gone, overhead lights are up, the floor is patched and refinished (you can't tell because it's covered with brown paper and construction mess), the base cabinets have gone in and the countertops should go in around Monday (hooray!).
 And we have doors in the house again!!!!!  I never knew I could be so excited about doors, but they had to take the old doors out to template the new ones (they were junky and many of them were missing so they had to be replaced and we decided to put in new solid wood doors).  Going to the bathroom with all the construction crew around without doors in the house was a problem.  They are not the very light birch doors that we were expecting (some of them are really orange), but let's focus on the positive today.
 Creed's room is coming together.  We're just waiting for some hardware that was missing for that light.
 The big wooden ball in this picture is the rest of the light, just waiting to go up.  And look, there are closet doors now!
 What used to be a second kitchen in an upstairs bedroom closet (so weird, right?) has been converted to a laundry room.  There was a problem with the tile so as soon as we come up with some new tile, the floor will go in.  Any suggestions?
 And maybe most exciting of all, we have new stairs and landings!!!!!  They should be finished up this week, and they are looking really good so far.  A few people have been asking me about these and thinking they are deadly for my children, but they are not as scary as they look.  The stairs are each three inches thick, which only leaves a four inch gap between them.  It's up to code here and no children will be able to slip through them (the railing above this with six inch gaps, now that's another story), of course, Creed and Ollie have already had lectures on being careful and not playing on these stairs, just in case, and we will have baby-gates up for Ollie's protection for a while.
 Even though the house is chaotic the kids love going over there and rediscovering all their toys that have been in storage for the last year.
So, we don't have any appliances or running drinking water, but I think we're moving over to the new house this afternoon, because believe it or not, my parents' house is under even more construction than ours.  Their new wood floors are being sanded as I type and the toxic stain will be applied this evening so it will no longer be an option to stay here.  Wish us good luck!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Yellowstone Reunion.

We were going to take our time checking out of the hotel and head home on our last day in Yellowstone, but the craziest thing happened; my sister Marissa called my mom to tell her that she was driving from her home in Canada to go to a funeral in Idaho and they planned to stop in Yellowstone on the way down.  What are the chances we would both be in Yellowstone at the same time?  We had to stay a few more hours to meet up with them, especially since Creed and his cousin Logan are BFFs and always ask to see each other.  They were thrilled!  And we got to watch Old Faithful again with Marissa's family!

 And Creed had to take Logan back to see his favorite Mud pots.
 I thought I had more pictures of them, but I realized that I took them on Marissa's camera so I'll have to steal some from her blog.
 It was a pretty perfect end to a really great trip.  I'm really excited to take the boys back again in a few years when we can be a little more adventurous.  Marissa says they'll meet up with us the next time too.
We got a later start than intended on our second day visiting Yellowstone because Ollie had an early morning seizure and then fell back asleep for a few hours and we wanted to give him time to fully recover.  

Late morning, we headed to meet the Davids at the Mammoth Hot Springs area of the park and we were even later than we'd imagined because we ran into another herd of bison slowly meandering along.  
 Creed and I called them the Buffalo Parade and were thoroughly entertained, but Larry's Southern Californian Road Rage was surfacing.
 All I could do was giggle and take a picture of how annoyed he was while gently reminding him that we were there to see wild life.

 Palette Springs and the Minerva Terrace were worth the drive
 It was chilly so I forced Creed to wear a warm hat, but don't worry folks, he still wore his Davy Crockett hat in the car.
 He happily hiked up for a view from the top with me while everyone else entertained the babies.

 We stopped at the mudpots on the way home and Creed  liked them so much, we ended up going back the next day.
 We saw a bear, and a wolf from afar while we were in the Mammoth Hot Springs area, but when we got back to West Yellowstone we spent some time at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center to see them a little bit closer.  Ollie was fascinated and kept saying, "Doggie! Doggie" and pointing to all the bears.

 Creed turned into a Wild Thing while we were there and almost moved in.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Creed & Ollie Take a Trip to Yellowstone

One week after Las Vegas, we went on a trip to Yellowstone with our friends the Davids.  It was just the grand adventure we were hoping it would be (and totally the opposite of vacationing in Las Vegas).

To be clear, we do not live a life of luxurious vacations, but Larry will have to put in a lot of time building up his new practice so we wanted to travel as a family while we had the chance.  I am so glad that we did.

It only took one day for Creed to become a mini-Davy Crockett.
 He begged for that fake Coon-skin cap and it was worth every penny.  He wore it almost every second of the whole trip.  We thought the boys might get bored in the car, but Creed was very entertained spotting wildlife with his binoculars and Ollie was unusually happy to be driving around.
 We were warned that May is supposed to be the worst possible time to visit Yellowstone because the weather is so unpredictable but we lucked out.  The skies were blue, the temperatures were mild and the animals were busy roaming the park.
 Ollie loved playing with the snow while it wasn't too cold outside.  While the rest of us enjoyed Old Faithful, he spent his time happily stomping in the snow.

 Creed saw Old Faithful four times while we were there, and he loved it. He wouldn't even turn around for a picture until after it was over because he didn't want to miss a second of it.

The warm-weather snowballs fights were a highlight for both of the boys.
And it was so fun for Ollie to have Ruby there to pal around with.  It's so cute how excited those two get when they see each other.
Part of the charm of Yellowstone are the amazing old lodges and visitors centers around the park (don't get me wrong, the new building are pretty great too)

And unlike trips to Disneyland or Las Vegas, food in the park is really reasonable so we didn't feel the need to tote around meals.
The Davids made great travel buddies.  They have a way of always finding the best local restaurants when they travel.

After lunch and a second round at Old Faithful, we went to see some of the geysers.  Creed and Larry had been talking about the geysers for weeks so they were really excited to see them in person, and they did not disappoint.

I think even if you don't consider yourself an outdoorsman, you can't help but be struck by the grandeur of Yellowstone.  I feel so grateful to have so many National Parks in the US.

The best part of the vacation for me was watching Creed on this adventure.  It's hard to know what will impress a four-year-old, but he loved Yellowstone.  He's already begging to go back.
It didn't hurt that we were stopped frequently by wild bison wandering around.
The last time I went to Yellowstone, I was 15, and I didn't remember the waterfalls, but they were amazing.  They were especially grand because of all the melting snow.

Doesn't Ollie look like he could be part of the Lewis and Clark expedition?  The scariest part of the day happened right before this picture, and it had nothing to do with this big cliff he was standing on the edge of.  There was a big bus of Chinese tourists that we'd passed earlier in the day.  When we saw them the second time, we were changing Ollie's diaper in the car and Creed was strapped into his car seat.  They surrounded the car trying to take pictures while waving to the boys to get their attention and shouting, "China! China!" and pointing to themselves and Creed was a little freaked out by the large mob.  Asian tourists took pictures of these blond boys everywhere they went, but by the second day, they hardly noticed it.
And to make a perfect day even better, it ended with ice cream.