Thursday, December 23, 2010

White Christmas

Well, it's not exactly Christmas Day, but it's close enough. Pretty, right?

First order of business is getting dressed. That's kind of hard.

Then we go for a walk with the sled. Mommy and Daddy try hard not to slip and fall.

At last, we arrive at the park! Snow is exponentially more interesting at the park.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Perpetual Motion Machines

This sequence of photos was taken at this morning's Toddler Craft and Cookie Exchange Party. It raises the question: Is it possible to keep five toddlers on a couch long enough to snap their picture?
I've got to hand it to Sven and Shane, who in life are two of the fastest balls of energy I've ever met, but sat still and made eye contact throughout the attempt (Shane, ever the professional model, even waved merrily at the camera). The usually-mellow Ezra had a slight meltdown, Sophia lost patience with and abandoned all the boys, and Ben departed with an air of stoic independence. We five parents with three cameras stood around laughing hysterically, and our children glared at us as though we were ruining their lives.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Advent Activities

Ben is just barely old enough to enjoy some holiday activities (although he has no interest in sitting in the lap of this enigmatic Santa person), so here's a photo journal of advent thus far.

This past Sunday, we went up to Waterville to see our friends' son's baptism. Ben got to play with some friends his age.
I sewed an advent calendar out of felt. All the pockets ended up crooked, but since we live in an old house without a single straight line or level surface in it, it matches. Ben enjoys taking an item out of a pocket every morning (usually a pretzel or a chocolate), and he's learning more of his numbers (he's up to 14 now).

It's getting colder, and we did have snowflakes yesterday, so that makes good mornings for sitting around in your PJs and watching cartoons.

This past Friday, we drove up to LL Bean's campus in Freeport, checked out the lights, did a bit of shopping, played in the Crooked Houses & Enchanted Forest, and watched the Sparkle Parade. Ben's favorite activity was opening and closing the door to the little red schoolhouse.

Here's a little surprise I made for Ben for Christmas (Shhh!): Kipper and Pig felt puppets. Kipper is one of Ben's favorite characters. I got the idea from The Land of Nod, as I also did for the advent calendar.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Little Chef

Chef Ben likes to help chop vegetables at the counter...

But he prefers "cooking" underneath the dining room table. Ingredients: egg poacher, salad server, clementines, hole puncher, and cat.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Maine's Fire-breathing Terror

We had a very fun Halloween, and were so worn out that it has taken me a while to post costume photos. We had an especially nice party on the night before Halloween, with plenty of adorable kids (and several adults) in costume, and entirely too many desserts. Ben and I dressed as the dragon and St. George--a fun way to remember All Saints Day as well as Halloween! Chris dressed as "disgruntled philosophy professor." Boo. Instead of making myself a sword and shield, I used a book of dragon lullabies to subdue the wee terrifying dragon.


Ben can count from 1 to 10, and he knows his shapes, colors, and body parts. We own a few simple books that he has memorized and can read out loud (including the appropriate mood, volume, and expressions for each page), but don't be surprised if he clams up when he's around a big group of people. He's still an introvert!

Monday, October 18, 2010

October Fare

Here are a few photos from this week.

Admiring a pumpkin with Daddy:

Entranced by the deliciousness of PB&J (with homemade blueberry jam!):

Taking a walk in the woods with Mama (the best part of which was throwing acorns into the river):

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Apple Season

Earlier this month, we met two families at Ricker Hill Orchards in Turner, Maine. It was a perfect Saturday, and as soon as we arrived, Ben went out and smelled the pumpkins (I don't know why he loves to do this, but he does) while Chris purchased some warm pumpkin doughnuts from the farm store (a little bit crunchy and not too sweet--YUM).

After that, we explored the family fun area, which included a mini disc golf course, moon bounces (a tad unsettling for young Ben), friendly livestock, a hay maze and mountain, real and toy tractors, a corn maze, and the absolute highlight, the corn bin. We all jumped right in. Aside from being a tad dusty, Chris and I considered the benefits of having a bed at home filled with dry corn kernels.

After a picnic lunch, we drove to the apple orchard on top of the mountain. The view was breath-taking--you could just barely see Mt. Washington. It'll be even better with fall colors. Ben enjoyed a ride with his buddy George in one of the wagons while we picked Fujis, MacIntoshes, and Macouns. We hitched a ride on a tractor trailer to pick what was left of the sweet, juicy grapes (best I've tasted since living in California), and then headed home.

I highly recommend Ricker Hill to everyone, whether you have kids or just want a whole bunch of fresh, crunchy apples! It's only an hour's drive from Portland. I thought my 20 pounds of apples would last quite a while, but after an enormous apple crisp and a big batch of apple butter, plus a bit of snacking, they disappeared!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Gardens are more fun when I don't have to weed them.

A couple of weeks ago, when Ya Ya and Paw Paw came to visit, we visited the botanical gardens in BoothBay Harbor. It is supposed to be one of the best on the Eastern Seaboard, and I can see why. It was a hot day, so Ben wore his swim trunks and splashed in the fountains.

The children's garden was by far the highlight. It featured fanciful little cottages, treehouses, and characters; a vegetable garden, a chocolate garden, and a rainbow garden; and a maze, a reading room, and a bear cave. Only a fraction of the fun is pictured here. I highly recommend it for little ones as well as adults.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nap? Nap!!!

Ever since we sleep-trained Ben as an infant, he has gone to sleep on his own. When he was tiny, sometimes he'd cry a bit, but for the past year and a half he pretty much goes to sleep shortly after his head hits the mattress. However, for the past two weeks, I'd put him down for his nap when he's drowsy and yawning, and he'd do this:

He has been spending 1 to 2 hours at every nap and some bed times, talking, playing, and giggling to himself contentedly before falling asleep. I began to worry that he might be trying to drop his nap, although I was still convinced he needed it. So once again I referred to my favorite parenting blog as a reference: Chronicles of a Babywise Mom. I have found it helpful on many occasions, if only as reassurance that I am not alone in my experiences. This time I learned that babies have to retrain themselves about 5 times in life. The physician that Babywise Mom talked to mentioned 2 months, 18 months, and 2 years as being three of those times (and that's been consistent with Ben's experience). So it's just a phase Ben is going through, and I can listen to him giggling in the monitor without worrying he's dropping his nap. (I really need that nap time to recharge!)
Incidentally, in the video above, he kept saying "no" and "uh-uh" to himself, which cracked him up. Apparently when I tell him "no," it's just a big joke!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Social Event of the Season

Ben's 2nd birthday party was great fun! Two of Ben's favorite shows are Curious George and Blue's Clues, so we worked them into the fun. I printed out coloring pages with George and Blue, made a George bean bag toss game and a Blue treasure hunt game (in the bean bin), and decorated the monstrosity of a cake with George's face. It was a lovely day (a bit too cool for the wading pool, actually), and our house was packed with parents and kids.

We had a book swap, so every child went home with a new book. There were no major meltdowns and Ben seemed to really enjoy himself.

I have to say, the high point was the cake: I baked two chocolate sheet cakes and layered them with semisweet chocolate buttercream and salted caramel buttercream. I think it's probably the yummiest cake I've ever made. The leftovers are so moist and delicious. Ben ate his entire piece and half of mine and still wanted more.