T Rex Family

T Rex Family

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Downtown Outing One

This week we had not just one outing downtown but two - both were to catch up with friends whom we haven't seen in a while. However, we always try to mix in some fun for the kids especially if they are well behaved during long meals. We do our best to pack their food and some entertainment (crayons, playdough, stickers, etc.). Usually we only get about 60-90 minutes total from the time we walk into a restaurant to the time we walk out. It is a mad orchestration of controlled chaos but it gets easier each time. Good preparation is the key. Impromptu stuff is rarely successful. 

On this first outing we had  sushi with a close family friend who just returned from climbing Mt. McKinley. We heard her husband's version of the climb a couple weeks back. Now it was our turn to hear her version of the climb. If you'd like to read more, visit News From Summit Ridge. It was fun to hear two versions of the same climb. They were on different ends of the rope so what was scary to her was nothing to him and vice versa.

Here are some photos from the first downtown outing this past week. There were so many great photos that I'm just including them all. We actually have a pretty nice family photo, too. This is extremely rare. Also very rare - a photo of just T Rex Dad.

T Rex always insists on riding the escalator so we always do - this time, however, we took a photo of Bebe Sister riding it for the first time.

Then to the wishing fountain to throw in pennies and splash a bit. This is right next to city hall. 

 Bebe Sister loves riding in her Boba carrier. She totally thinks I'm her pony and kicks her heels in the stirrups to get me to go and pats my back in the direction she wants me to go. I understand now why my horse used to give me some of the looks she would give. I have more compassion for her and significant admiration for her patience, too. Here we are "galloping" - this is her favorite activity in the pack.

All that fun left for some thirsty kids. Luckily, there is a drinking fountain. Bebe Sister enjoyed a drink while T Rex thought it great fun to plug the water and make it spray. 

Outing number two coming up...

Do you have success when taking your kids out to eat? If so, what are your tactics for success?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hummingbird Close Encounter...

Sometimes some of the most extraordinary things happen in one's own backyard. First some back story.

The past couple of days my nephew has been staying with us. It's really a big deal for T Rex - he's been wanting to have his cousin over for a sleep over for quite some time. When we scheduled this a couple weeks back it was just about all he could talk about. It has been nice to have a brief break from non-stop chatter about Lightning McQueen and Thomas the Tank Engine. Nana also joined in on the fun, too.

We did library time on Tuesday - Dede was a great sport and kindly sat through toddler tales even thought he could have roamed the huge library (I would have chosen the latter option but he said he wanted to hang with his cousins). Then we had a great Mongolian BBQ lunch before the kids had naps. After naps we headed to the pool. Upon arriving back home, Nana and Dede saw a hummingbird hit one of our back windows. I intentionally keep the feeder away from the windows to avoid this. Up to this point, this was the first time I have seen this happen. 

Nana quietly told me about it in case it was a fatal crash and I needed to do some clean up without the little kids being sad. I went outside and this is what I saw (see photo below) - our tiny feathered friend was stunned but alive. I picked him up as I have done many other times with some of the other stunned birds. Remember the last time T Rex was able to hold one and thought he was holding a "real life tweety bird"? 

I called T Rex and Dede outside to see the teeny tiny bird. It was so amazing and very small. I have actually always wanted to hold one. These birds completely facinate me. In fact, I have even attended a local bird watching group who bands hummingbirds. I did this with the hope of seeing one up close. However, this is the most up close encounter I could have ever imagined. 

I held him for a bit, T Rex held him for a brief moment, and then Dede held him while I snapped this video. However, the coolest moment was when T Rex reached over and kissed the little bird on the head. When I took the video I asked him to do it again which he happily complied with. How many of us can say we've kissed a hummingbird? Pretty amazing. My teenage nephew thought it was pretty cool and if you can impress a teenager then it must be awesome. 

The photo of Dede holding it shows you how tiny this little bird was. Its feathers were so soft, its tiny heart beating so fast, such delicate wings, and an impressively long beak. We were most intriqued by how his tiny and sharp claws held on to our fingers.

After a while the wind came up and as it blew through his wings it made them flutter. He fluttered while perched on Dede's hand and then off he went. We did see this same hummer back at the feeder a few hours later so we know he is doing well.

Here's that video of T Rex giving this sweet hummingbird a  kiss. Pardon the chaos - we were just not sure what was going to happen from moment to moment.

Have you ever had something unexpectedly wonderful happen to you? Or ever have any cool close encounters?

Monday, July 25, 2011


This summer the kids have been enjoying the fine art of bug spying. Here are some of their finds.

First, we start in our own back yard with a "stinky bug" as T Rex calls them. By the time I snapped the photo, it had hidden in the grass. Wouldn't you if you had such an audience?

Then there was the grasshopper (on the wall next to Bebe Sister). I did not worry about the kids mangling this guy too much - I was more worried about him eating my berry bushes. (Yes, Bebe Sister is running around in just a fitted diaper. She's starting to transition from elimination communication to potty training. And yes, that is one of my original cloth diapers that a long time follower mitchsmom gave me. It has really gotten a lot of use and is still holding up great.)

Then on a park outing, Bebe Sister spotted a giant black ant. Seriously large, although, from the photo it looks like a speck. I love that little pointer finger - my mom often chuckles that it is going to get worn out with as much use as it gets these days.

Then, the greatest find of all. Our first adult preying mantis of the season. For the past couple of years we have not purchased egg sacs but have rather waited to see if any of the off spring of our past mantis residents would be around. Last year we had a good turn out. This year, it has been slow but so many things have been slow to start up so we're hopeful more are to come. This one was only about 3 cm long. Small by our standards. The kids were enthralled. Me, too, actually. Remember Manty who found his way into the diapers and went through the dryer?

After all this bug spying, the kids asked me to make them some bugs they could keep inside. Here is what I came up with. Going with my original statement of "purchase no new yarn but use what I have" I made the larger ladybug. It was huge. I think it would qualify as a small throw pillow. Bebe Sister loves it and has mastered the art of antennae removal. I need to secure those better. 

Then I made another smaller ladybug as a gift - alas, I had to purchase some wool for this project so as to avoid another giant ladybug. For the ladybugs I used the same pattern as the turtle except I changed the colors and added spots. The small ladybug is about the size of the turtle. Both large and small are the exact same pattern - just different gauge needle and yarn.  The little lady bug seemed so sad all alone that I had to make a bumble bee friend to go along with it. The bumble bee is my own pattern. 

I do apologize for the poor quality of these last photos. The only way I can photograph these items is while the kids are asleep. Hence, I lost my natural light. I opted not to use plastic eyes so there would be no concern of choking hazards. (T Rex has become a bit obsessed with choking hazards so he is always reminding me. But he also gets very concerned if something has no eyes - thus, sewed on eyes are our compromise.)

We've also spied several spiders, too. Those, we mostly try to avoid because the kids don't know good from bad. The hobos and black widow spiders are quickly terminated by T Rex Dad. Hobo spiders are very aggressive - once, one was going right for the kids and T Rex Dad smashed it with his bare hand. I could not have imaged him (or anyone else) doing that but I guess I see what happens when something threatens his kids. Other garden spiders and the "jumping" ones we get in the house are relocated outside and are most welcome.

Thank you for joining us spying bugs. How about you - do you like spying bugs?

Thursday, July 21, 2011


This week we revisited a favorite park.

Remember this photo from May?

Well, we went back this week and the tree is full of leaves.

I took the kids to burn off some toddler energy on this warm July day. I made them run to and from the tree - 



Three times..

Then we took a lunch break and shared some veggie Pirate Booty with the local resident squirrel.

Later we spied some bugs but more on that in another posting.

In case you were wondering, yes, they took great naps! And I enjoyed a long workout and some crafting. Lots more to show you soon.

Do you have any tricks to getting your kids to take a long nap?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Elimination Communications - Is it time to transition to potty training?

I first told you about our experience with infant potty training or elimination communication here

My goal from the beginning was to make our daughter think all just was simply part of her daily routine. This goal has certainly been accomplished. She fully expects to sit on the toilet first thing every morning, as well as after breakfast, after lunch, after nap, and before bath time. We've had many days where she only uses one or two diapers in the day. Sometimes we will go a week or more without changing a #2 diaper. That is saying a lot from a girl who does 2-3 BMs a day.

We started toilet training T Rex at around 14 months and he was mostly done with diapers around 18-20 months. My memory is a bit fuzzy since I was in my first trimester of pregnancy with Bebe Sister and suffering morning sickness basically 24/7. I do remember we were highly motivated to not have two kids in diapers or be paying for two kids in diapers either.

Until recently, I would say our daughter was at about the same point our son was at this age. The big exception, and I feel this is the best part, it that it has been so unbelievably stress-free with her. 

With T Rex, there was always the feeling that it was a chore to take him to the toilet. Plus, we were constantly running there. T Rex was not always happy with us constantly interrupting his toddler activities to take a restroom break. With the process we've followed for our daughter, it is more Zen-ful and tranquil and just easier. She knows the routine and does it.

Significantly, in the last week, she has also learned to do #1 on demand. This is huge. She is clearly at a more advanced stage than her brother was at the same age. When T Rex mastered this, we were set. After that, it all fell into place. Hence, this is where I believe elimination communication has given her the edge. It could possibly be a girl thing. I have read and heard anecdotally that girls potty train easier than boys. I'm not sure.

We could probably be 100% if we pushed for it. But honestly, we're not ready to cart a portable potty chair on outings for use in public restrooms. (She cannot stand on the toilet seat like her brother used to.) She is far too small to use a toilet without a seat. Often, she just waits to go when we get home. I think a time is coming soon when she will make the transition to training pants instead of diapers. However, I have already been using a fitted diaper that allows her to feel moisture. I use this on her with just a t-shirt. If I loosen the snaps, it works perfectly as training pants. She is still too small for most training pants, too!

I know a few folks thought we were crazy when we introduced the idea of toilet training via elimination communication with a baby, but I can now report nothing but smiles all around. Well, except that I do get a little sad thinking that all my cute cloth diapers will probably be going into storage soon. 

What kind of process did you follow with your kids? How long did it take? Did you have any motivating factors like us or was it just time?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stay-cation - Part VII - Projects and Odd Ends

Here is - the end of the stay-cation postings. T Rex Dad went back to work on Monday. It was tough on the kids. They were in daddy-detox for a couple days. However, Grandma and Grandpa N came over last night and Nana is here today and tomorrow. So, at least this eases the blow and makes the week seem shorter.

It was a really nice stay-cation. We were actually quite busy with events and outings - but we never traveled more than 30 minutes from the house. And most of our activities were outdoors, too.

When were were not out and about, we were home doing projects. I had several I wanted to accomplish while T Rex Dad was off. Here are a few that I did finish...

First, a patchwork quilt. This is the first one I've done is a really, really long time. I worked on it on and off for about 5 months. Here is the finished project. I wish I had made it a bit bigger but I think it will work nicely for our bed. If you click on the photos you can see the fabric prints better - moons and stars. Now we can sleep among the stars!

After the quilt was finished, I also finished several amigurumi animals. My goal with the rest of my projects this year is to not purchase any new material or yarn. Everything needs to come from my current inventory. My mother-in-law heard about this and was kind enough to bring over some of her open poly-fil to use on the animals so I would not have to purchase any new stuff. The elephants are both baby gifts. The pattern is out of this book. I sewed on yarn eyes so there would not be any chocking hazards. T Rex is very concerned about that these days.

Then T Rex requested I make him a William Cat. I tell him made up stories about a ficticious cat family. I intergrate lessons into these stories. For example, T Rex is terrified of storms. So I made up a story about William and Sweet Pea and the tornado. I really do need to write these stories down. Because of these characters becoming endeared to my little guy, he asked that I make a William and Sweet Pea to go along with the stories.

I found this wonderful amigurumi cat pattern and from some very think coarse black yarn I had around the house, I made William. His head turned out larger than I would have liked. And the yarn was not the best to work with. Additionally, I did work on this during a baseball game so I think that might be why some of the appendages are a little oddly shaped. Regardless of its flaws, T Rex loved him. He's already seeing a lot of action around the house.

Whenever I make a new animal for T Rex, I put it out for him to find in the morning. Then when he is about to fall asleep, I go into his bedroom and whisper into his ear that his surprise is waiting for him to find in the morning. You can see how I set out William to be found.

T Rex has also been really into Thomas the Tank train. In fact, he insists on taking at least one train with him everywhere we go. Rather than have him free carry one or more train in the grocery store or park, I thought a little case/bag was in order to save us from losing one. This was pulled together from some scraps I had around the house.

Lastly, one last amigurumi. T Rex requested I make a tortuga for my most recent project. This is where I found the free pattern. I am a little disappointed the shell turned out so large. And this time, I followed the directions to the letter and had no distractions. Once again, I am harder on myself than T Rex. He loved the tortuga and calls him Roger after my nephew's pet tortoise. I was glad I found this shade of green among my yarn stash. Otherwise, Roger would have been Christmas green.

I did complete two rounds of canning during the stay-cations, too. Blueberry and organic strawberry jams. Both turned out great. This week I'll be doing some organic blueberry. And next year, hopefully, I'll have enough blackberries from the garden to use them to can. My blackberry bushes are doing beautifully as are my grape vines. The blueberry bushes are so-so. Anyone have any suggestions for doing something with blue flax?

We did attempt to take T Rex to see Mr. Poppers Penguins but when he heard his sister would be staying with Nana he wanted to stay with Nana rather than go to a movie. Man I love that kid! So, T Rex Dad and I went to see Transformers 3. I love the Transformer movies but this one was a little too long for me but Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, did make a cameo appearance as himself. We thought that was really cool. And Leonard Nemoy was the voice of Sentinal Prime, so that was cool, too. But it was just not as great as the first one.

I also showed T Rex Dad one of my newer favorite movies - The Time Traveler's Wife. He and I managed to get through the movie after the kids had gone to bed. We only had to stop the movie 6 times which is pretty good for us watching a movie at home. And yes, we both cried multiple times.

Lastly, we have made huge strides with Bebe Sister and potty training. I think we've moved from elimination communication to potty training. I'll write about this soon.

So, there you have it. Stay-cation update complete. It was wonderful. I look forward to the next one. And so much less stressful than a full on vacation.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Stay-cation - Part VI - The Gauntlet

When summer starts, we begin what I call "the gauntlet". It seems like we have a ton of birthdays and anniversaries to celebrate. It happens that my sister and brother-in-law's 30th wedding anniversary and my mother's birthday are within a week of each other. Therefore, we opted to have a combined gathering to celebrate both events. And what better venue than the beach?

Here are some highlights from the birthday/anniversary celebration beach party. 

I took it upon myself to plan and execute everything. I did not want my mom or sister having to do anything. Oh, and I pulled it together with less than a week's notice, for under $100, and with a last minute venue change.

The day before the scheduled gathering, we found out the beach we were going to be using had high levels of E. coli and was not suitable to playing in, especially by young children. Thus, on the morning of the event, the kids and I loaded up in the car and drove around looking for a beach that would be suitable - tough in a state not near an ocean. We returned home two hours later. To our surprise, T Rex Dad had shampooed our carpet. It is amazing what one can accomplish without little helpers.

We put the kids to bed and I began cooking preparations - fried chicken, corn on the cob, rolls, fruit kabobs, tortellini spinach salad, and chocolate cake balls. T Rex Dad loaded the car with the coolers and remaining beach gear and away we went.

We arrived at the chosen beach spot but it happened to be occupied. However, the folks there were about to leave and they had already made it a nice cozy spot with a fire and make shift tree log table. It was wonderful with plenty of shade.

First, a little bit of that homemade food. Yes, I did dress the kids up a bit - you will see why. Isn't it a lovely venue? Not too bad considering we have no ocean.

After our bellies were full, it was time for the wedding vow renewal ceremony - this was the one big thing they wanted to do for their celebration. It was a simple ceremony and the couple both wrote lovely renewal vows for each other. My nephew also wrote a lovely poem for his parents. It was a nice bonus the ceremony was short enough that the kids were quiet most of the time, too.

After the quiet, contemplative, and sentimental ceremony, the swimming fun began as we all changed into our swimming attire. T Rex went right into the cold water. As we started to see him become more daring, we opted to have him wear his life jacket, just in case. Throwing rocks into the water is always a bit hit with the kids, too.

When our daughter started foraging for food in the cooler, we decided it was time for dessert. Chocolate cake balls. I wanted something simple that would not have to be cut into pieces. I will say these are more labor intensive than just baking a cake but the fun and delight factors were worth the extra effort. 

Bebe Sister had a grand time eating her cake ball. This is what I like about the beach - the kids can get as dirty as they want and it all washes off before we leave. Of course, I am still finding sand in the car and laundry room but I am learning to just get over that. The memories are so much more precious than being frustrated over sand.

 Then we sang happy birthday to Nana and she opened her cards.

As the sun started to wane in the west, a family of ducks swam by and my sis, Bebe Sister, and I grabbed a bag of old bread brought just for the purpose of feeding the birds. We were not expecting the birds to be Mallards. This was a nice moment for me. When I was Bebe Sister's age my sister would take me to the park to feed the ducks. Now the circle is complete. 

My little guy then found me to tell me "Thanks for this beautiful day, Mama" which I always reply, "You are welcome but I think there is Someone Else who needs to be thanked, too." (Which he did that night before bed.)

Indeed, it was a lovely evening. All the time and effort put into this gathering was worth it. Everyone had just the best time. There were tons of smiles, laughs, and even some sentimental teary moments, too.

Do you have a gauntlet of birthdays/anniversaries that you celebrate or have you ever put together a last minute celebration on a tight budget?