Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Fake Stuff

We've been collecting Play-Doh over the years. We seem to always get a few containers for birthdays or holidays and I just stick them in the craft bin along with the others. Yet, I rarely take them out of the bin. It's not like I don't want to. I don't mind the kids playing with Play-Doh. I just rarely think of it. But, the other day I did. So excited, I got a few containers out of the craft bin and to my dismay, they were dried out. Not to mention, I had forgotten how gross Play-Doh smells. Really, really gross. I can't believe that someone actually made Play-Doh perfume. You think I'm kidding? Really, they did. The proof is here. Anyway, the kids who were anxiously awaiting getting their hands on the stuff were obviously disappointed. Not wanting to disappoint my two favorite little people, I quickly hit the internet searching for the perfect Play-Doh recipe. Fortunately, there are tons and, even better, I had everything on hand.

So, here it is. Our "Princess Pink" and "Gross-Boy Green" (names courtesy of Ava) Play-Doh. I gotta say, I like it so much better than the real stuff. AND if you stick it in a ziploc baggie it lasts up to six months. Gotta love that!

The kids and I spent about an hour playing with the stuff, making cakes, snakes and dinosaur stomping grounds.

So proud of his snake!

Mmmm... Play-Doh birthday cake!

Here's the recipe I used (it's called Colored Playdough). Make it. Enjoy. Just don't eat it. That's gross. Just ask Jax.

Reward for Early Birds

We've been spending a lot of time inside. It's summer, so it's hot obviously. But summer in the South is much different than summer in Arizona or Utah. The dry heat, I can handle. The muggy, humid, sweat-as-soon-as-you-step-outside heat is a whole different story. Most days, by the time we're all awake, fed, dressed and have finished chores, it's too late to go outside and play for a long period of time. Not to mention, I'm one of those crazy moms who likes to keep her kids inside during peak UV ray hours. I should clarify and state that I do allow them to go outside during these hours if an activity or family outing requires, but trust me, I slather on the sunscreen. Gotta protect that precious skin.

Anyway, that's a long intro. The kids and I have been going a little stir crazy staying inside so much. Jax had an ear issue last week so we couldn't go swimming and we had so many other things going on that we didn't go outside much after dinner like we usually do. So, I resolved to get up earlier, get the kids going earlier and start going outside early in the morning, saving chores for when we came back in. Yesterday morning, we didn't make it. Fifty-percent of my children was having a hard morning. But today, I was determined. As soon as the kids were up, I fed them. Got everyone dressed and we headed outside armed with sidewalk chalk, bubbles, bug kit and magnifying glass. After several games of hopscotch and so much bubble blowing I began getting dizzy, we set off to race down the small hill behind our apartment. It's amazing how many times these kids ran up and down the same hill, giggling each time as if it was the first (mommy got a little wokout in too). Then we set off to catch some poor innocent bugs. Spiders, ants, they all made it into our bug catcher. But the biggest treat came as we collected leaves. I just happened to look up and spotted a butterly, wings fully expanded, just sitting on a leaf. I quickly gathered the kids and we quietly watched in awe as it slowly opened and closed it's wings. I have never seen a butterfly sit still for so long. We watched it for atleast 15 minutes, and it was still on the leaf when we left.

Ava pretending to be a butterfly...

And Jax pretending to be a butterfly

As we walked back to our door I thought of how grateful I was that we made it outside this morning and were treated to such a special sight. Ava must have known what I was thinking because just at that moment she squeezed my hand and said, "That butterfly was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."

Now, that's how you start a day.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Bedtime Battle

It's 10:15 p.m. and I need to blog. I need something to distract me from the fact that my two-year-old still isn't asleep, has come out of his room for the fourth time tonight and is currently driving monster trucks in the hallway, which he must think provides some sort of sound barrier from the living room and that I can't hear him. Nice try, buddy. I hear you. I'm trying to ignore you. There's only so many times you can say, "Jaxon, make a good choice. It's time for bed." Or, "Jaxon, do we need to put the gate up?" The gate, is one of those baby gates you use so your kids don't fall down stairs, yeah, we use ours to cage Jax up in his room like the little monkey he is. We only do it at bedtime when he's come out of his room several times. Like tonight. But after screaming at the gate for several minutes (Jax, not me) I went to his room, took it down, gently walked him back to his bed, kindly spoke to him about how sad it makes him and me to have to put the gate up, and got an affirmative from the little dude that he'd stay in his bed. That was 10 minutes ago. I wrongly assumed the gate would be an effective tactic. It was last night, but this kid is no fool, he's over it. He's moved on. Steel door? Bring it.

****Hold on, taking a blogging break to take the little monster back into his room.*****

I'm back. So far, so good. I swear, if he wasn't so cute I'd flush him. Not really. He's huge. But I think that's something my father-in-law used to say to his boys, so Andy says it and now I do. Kinda catchy.

I don't have many frustrations as a mother. I have really good kids. I mean, really. I'm not just saying that. I hear other moms talk about their kids, or I see the way some of these kids behave and I think, "I have it easy." Our kids are very thoughtful, very polite and usually very obedient. Of course, they have their moments. They're kids. But, for every naughty choice they make, there's 10 good ones. Maybe more. So, it's nights like tonight (or every night, as of late) that are so tough. Jax is a really good boy. Except at bedtime. And here's the thing, it's not like he comes out of his room and goes all Godzilla, terrorizing our house. No, usually he just brings a monster truck or two out and will set on the floor near wherever Andy and I are, and play. If we have the TV on he'll ask what we're watching. Most nights, he comes out of his room dragging his blanket, asking us to fix it. He doesn't quite grasp that if he'd stop getting out of bed, the blanket issue would be solved. Some nights he'll go into Ava's room and bother her, some nights she joins in the wild rumpus and I hear two little wild things giggling in her room. Most often though, she yells, "Moooooom, Jax is in my room. Please get him out!" (see what I mean, so polite).

So, what to do. We've started a reward system for when the kids make good choices (which I'll blog about later). Apparently, Jax does not care to earn a Kleinman Buck past 8 o'clock. We've bribed him with a monster truck, promising that if he stays in his bed five nights in a row he can earn a Taz monster truck. We made it two nights. But he still asks about Taz nightly and we still tell him he has to earn him. Some may say bribery isn't the best way to go about it. But here's the thing, it's not like our bribes are unrealistic. I'm not promising the kid a trip to Disneyworld if he stays in his bed. We're simply trying to teach him the positive behavior merits positive consequences. We don't yell at or spank our kids and timeouts are used only when violence is involved (Ava never gets timeouts, occasionally Jax does). I've always tried to use positive reinforcement to correct a naughty behavior or choice, rather than negative. It's always worked for us. I'm counting on it pulling us through this time around, too.

I'm sure we'll get past this. Right now he's still just so excited about the freedom that comes with a toddler bed. But, every parent knows how precious that time is after your kids go to bed. It's not relaxing when two hours of that precious time is spent convincing a child that his bed is the best place to be right now. I'm sure, soon enough Jax will earn his Taz. I'm sure he'll figure out how to put his blanket back on himself. Until then, I'm just going to keep reminding myself just how wonderful he is the other 95% of the time. Maybe I have it too easy. Maybe my kids are so good that I needed a challenge. Yeah, that's it.

Meanwhile, here's the little turkey hanging out at the pool. He already had his floaties on when a little boy offered to let Jax borrow the horse ring. Between the floaties, ring and his belly we had one buoyant little guy. He's so cute. Even when he's frustrating. That's a talent.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The ABC Rock!

Jax has been singing his ABC's for several months now, but I've failed to capture him reciting them until now. Here's the "regular" version:

And here's the "Rock" version:


Sunday, June 20, 2010

For Papa Bear

Our kids are crazy about their Daddy. Don't let him tell you otherwise. Sure, they're definitely attached to me, but when it comes to fun and giggles, Daddy is their man. He's the master at hide 'n' seek, sometimes scaling walls just to get out of view. He love, love, loves to tickle them, just as much as they love to try to hide from thet tickle monster (yet somehow always allow themselves to get caught). He teaches them silly (sometimes inappropriate... thanks Ralphie) songs and the joys of potty humor. There's not a better storyteller out there, at least not one who can somehow always include Princess Ava, Prince Jax, all the Disney Princesses and Shrek in a story... and still have it make sense. He sometimes sneaks in a few extra minutes of TV time for them, something they NEVER get from Mommy. He's calm and comforting and always speaks to our children with love and respect.

This is Andy's FOURTH Father's Day. This one was especially fun for me to prepare for because the kids bother understood what was going on, and were excited to keep our Father's Day plans a secret. Although, Ava tells me Jax spilled the beans last night. If he did, Andy never let on. Just another reason why I love him.

Ava joined the Primary kids in singing at church this morning, she had a great big grin on her face through the entire song. So did Andy. He's always loved our kids dearly, but each day, as they grow older I can see his love for them multiply -- and theirs for him. And I never knew how much my love for him would evolve and grow when he became a Daddy. It's no wonder families are central to our Heavenly Father's plan!

Happy Father's Day, my love! Thanks for blessing me with two precious little monsters, and thanks for blessing them with an amazing Daddy. We love you!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Don't Tell Daddy

Ava loves my shoes. And so does her *ahem* brother. Daily, Ava prances around the house in a pair of my high heels. Today, she chose my boots. And well, you can see what her brother chose. Shhhh, don't tell Andy this is what goes on when he's at work.

Mama's Clothes

My parents sent my very first soccer uniform to us this week. I wore it when I was five, and the only girl on the "Charging Cheetahs." Ava, being the little soccer player she is just HAD to have the jersey, so I washed it and stuck it in her dress-up box. This morning, when I had her go pick out her clothes for the day, this is what she brought me.

How could I resist? I'll admit, I got a little nostalgic seeing my little girl in my old jersey. A few things stood out to me: first of all, Ava is WAAAAAY taller at four than I was at five. I can specifically remember that shirt going down to my knees. As you can see, it's nowhere near Ava's. Secondly, this jersey is the only one in my many years of soccer and volleyball that didn't have a #9 on the back. Next, we had some SHORT shorts in the 80's. There was no way Ava was putting those things on. Not to mention, the elastic had dried out and broken which would have made the shorts fall off my skinny minnie. And lastly, Ava is such a little girl now. Really, she's a full-fledged little girl kid. Not a baby, not a toddler, barely even a preschool... she's a kid. And she's already acquiring her own soccer jerseys. She already has two, and I assume there will be many more in the future. I'll be sure to keep them for my grandchildren.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Relief from the Heat

It's been H-H-H-O-T this last week. Not just hot, but humid which makes the hot seem even more hot! The kids haven't played outside much, except after dinner when it's much cooler (but the humidity still makes you sweat like a beast). But today, we woke up bright and early to join our playgroup at the park and waterplay area. We were supposed to meet at 9, but the kids and I headed over to the park after we dropped Andy off at 8:30. So, for about 30 minutes the kiddos had the ENTIRE park to themselves. But after those 30 minutes, they were more than ready for some friends to arrive. When they eventually began trickling in, the kids stripped off their clothes, revealing their bathing suits and headed over to splash around in the "geysers" (as Ava calls them).

Since school is out, there were more kids than just those in our church playgroup at the water area. As a matter of fact, there were ALOT more. Jax was not at all overwhelmed by the amount or size of the other kids, and simply joined them all for a splashing good time. Ava, on the other hand, was frustrated by all the "unnecessary splashing" (her words, not mine) going on... much of it landing in her face. When I finally convinced her that no one was splashing her on purpose and to just go have fun, she was back at my side within a couple of minutes, hands on her hips, scowl on her face. Turns out, a little boy told her to "shut up!" He wasn't with our group (thank goodness). When I asked what prompted this meanness Ava said she was just walking around singing when the boy said the bad word (at least it is in our house). My first instinct, of course, was to go and shove the kid's face in one of the "geysers" but recognizing that course of action a) would not set a good example to my kids and b) could land me in jail, I opted for a gentler approach. I had to explain to my sweet little four-year-old that sometimes kids say mean things, and that Ava could just ignore him and go play with her nice friends, or she could tell him she doesn't appreciate him talking like that. She opted to play with her friends... and had fun!

We've been to this water area before but never noticed just a little ways down is a little "boat" for the kids, complete with steering wheel (what is the nautical term for that?) and bell.

From here, we went back to the park, then back to the water area to rinse off before heading to McDonalds for lunch. All the kids played in the play area while the moms sat and chatted. We finally made it home at 2. A long day, but a fun one! The kids ran around, played with friends and I made some new ones. And best of all, not one single Kleinman complained about that heat or humidity. That's right, three-and-a-half hours outside and not a single complaint. We just may like Mississippi afterall.

Friday, June 11, 2010


This is why it's been nearly two weeks since our belongings arrived and only 75% of the boxes are unpacked.

This is how Ava and Jax "help" me unpack. I can't blame them, their version is WAAAAY more fun than actual unpacking! If only I were small enough to fit in a box...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Work in Progress

Poor Ava. All our boxes arrived last week and for some reason, the movers put all the miscellanous boxes (the ones not clearly labeled) into her room... right in front of the boxes clearly labled "GIRL TOYS." After seeing her brother's room get completely unpacked and his toys all available to him she broke down in tears, "Mommy, can you please try to find my princesses?" Of course I could. She's been so wonderful during this whole process and extremely patient. So, I found her princesses. A happier girl there's never been. In the process I was also able to move boxes into their appropriate rooms and begin working on Ava's. However, in my rush to get her room in order I overlooked one major detail: a bookshelf. We didn't have one. In Utah, her bookshelf was built into her closet. Here, we had nothing. And if there's one thing Ava has a lot of, it's books. As a matter of fact, there were FOUR boxes labeled "GIRL ROOM BOOKS." So, we were on a mission to get a bookshelf. I had this grand plan -- I'd go to a second-hand store, find a cheapy bookshelf and re-do it (as I love to do) and all would be good. Here's the problem, there are only two thrift stores in our town and neither has much of a selection. So, we went to Wal-Mart planning to just get a simple white shelf... which, it turns out, Wally World did not have. So, we got a brown one. However, there was no way I was putting a brown wood bookshelf in my daughter's white, pink and green room. So, I spent several hours one night and a few the next morning to create this:

I incorporated some of the fabrics I'm using around her room into the shelf.

While I was feeling crafty I also came up with this little hair bow holder.

Easy peasy.

All of the rooms are still works in progress. As a matter of fact, Ava still doesn't even have a bed. She outgrew her toddler bed, so we promised her a twin bed when we moved here. However, with our house still in boxes it just isn't convenient, so for the meantime she's sleeping on a blow-up mattres, which she thinks is pretty cool. We're hoping by next weekend we'll have her bed up and I'll be able to start getting vinyl on the walls. I'll be sure to post more pictures as the rooms come along.

P.S. Just thought I'd add that I counted Ava's books as I put them on her shelves (there's a bunch on a smaller shelf in her closet, also) and she has 260 books. That's a lot of books for one little girl, and doesn't include all the books she handed down to her brother when we moved. Good thing she's learning to read!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Very Best of Friends

I just stole this photo from my friend Joni's blog. I couldn't resist, it's too cute!

This is one of the very last picture we have of the Four Musketeers together! It was taken on the steps of our friends' house after doing a fun craft together. The night before we left, our friends graciously allowed us to stay at their house for our final playdate and a sleepover (Joni took us to the airport the next morning). It was funny, but after the kids were all in bed and Joni and I sat in her living room we realized it may have been the first time in our 18-month friendship that we had un-interrupted chat time together.

The morning was a tough one for all of us, none of the kids were very happy about moving (okay, I'll admit, the grown-ups shed a few tears too). Ava and Jax are already looking forward to visiting our their very best buddies... someday. Until then, we'll keep in touch via phone, e-mail and Skype. I have a feeling these kids (and Mamas) are going to be great friends for a very looooong time!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I'm a Genius

Okay, I'm not really a genius but I had one of those rare moments yesterday when a good idea popped in my head and, when executed, turned out just as good as I had imagined.

We have TONS of crayons. Really. Tons of them. As any parent knows you never have one complete set of crayons. You have a smorgasboard of perfect crayons, crayon pieces, crayons with or without paper, just the pointy tip of the crayon, taped crayons, and the like. In our house, the mish-mash lived in a large ziploc baggie. As I unpacked the ugliness that is the crayon bag I thought of going through it and throwing away all the broken pieces. But instead, the kids and I did this:

I know I'm not the first person in the world to do this, but I am pretty excited that I even thought to do it. First, I sprayed my mini muffin tin with Pam, then let the kiddos put crayon pieces in each compartment.

Then, I cooked it in a 350 oven for just a few minutes. Really, I couldn't tell you how long but I just kept an eye on it. Actually, the kids kept an eye on it and told me when everything looked all "melty."

Then, I stuck the tray on the counter to cool. But when that took too long I popped that baby in the freezer and within a few minutes...

VIOLA!!! They came out of the tin soooo easily and left very little residue so it was easy to clean off. I should have taken pics of the kids coloring with them, but alas, I did not. But I will tell you they L-O-V-E-D their new crayons. Ava told me several times they were the best crayons EVER. She especially enjoyed writing her name and seeing it in a rainbow of colors. Jax preferred the stick-it-on-the-flat-side-and-color-as-fast-as-I-can method. We have several pages of a Thomas coloring book that are full of Jax's very colorful artwork.

Love this little project. So fun and so resourceful.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Let's Get Physical

Our family has set a new goal. It's not a big one, but an important one: 30 minutes of family exercise a day. This is, of course, just a minimum and is in addition to mine and Andy's regular workouts. But, we thought it important to teach the kids about being healthy and taking care of our bodies. Our physical activity isn't necessarily us all running for 30 minutes or, making the kids do exercise DVD's. Nothing like that. It's fun time where we go outside, spend time together and get our hearts pumping -- whether swimming, walking, riding bikes or having races in the grass.

The kids have waited patiently for their bikes to arrive. They were without them for three whole weeks. When our belongings arrived six days ago, the first thing Jax asked the movers for was his trike. The guys were so smitten with our adorable little dude that they dug through the truck to find his trike. So nice!

For family physical time the other night, we took the kids out for a ride on their bikes/trikes/motorcycles. They rode while I Andy and I chased them. They thought it was HILARIOUS to have us running after them and loved changing directions to "trick" us or ride in circles to make us "dizzy." Jax even hopped off his motorcycle for a while to run after his sister.

Ava wore this costume the entire day and was not interested in taking it off to ride her bike.

We love our new family goal! Of course, it will help keep us healthy, but most importantly it gives us some quality time together that we can look forward to each day.
Check out Jax's sweaty helmet hair.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

True Southerners

We're official Southerners. We shopped at Piggly Wiggly. And, after that experience (and it really was) our first trip was also our last. The place was Dis.Gus.Ting! When you walk in, you're greeted by this awful stink. I can't quite put my finger on what it was, but I'm pretty sure it was something rotting. The store was dirty, there were blood drippings on the floor in the meat department, there was spilled alchohol and glass on the floor, which was still there even after I told the cashier (yes, there was just one cashier). Definitely not my favorite shopping experience. We ended up abandoning ship at the Piggly Wiggly and instead did all of our grocery shopping at Kroger (which is like Fry's or Smiths). Much better.

Birthday Celebration

This post is a week overdue. But, our stuff FINALLY came this week (HOORAY!) so time I might otherwise spend blogging and updating you on our oh-so-fabulous and exciting life, I've spent unpacking. It's a huge undertaking for one person, but thus far I have Jax's room and the kitchen done, Ava's room about halfway unpacked and made a little progress on our room. I'm hoping this weekend we can atleast get Ava's room done.

Anyway, Jax's birthday was the first our little family got to celebrate in our new home. Before Daddy went to work we gave Jax his first present -- a monster truck, of course. He calls it "my new one monster truck" and has slept with it every night since his birthday. Later in the day the kids got two packages, one from G-Ma & G-Pa and one from the kids' best buddy Ethan and his sister Avery. G-Ma & G-Pa sent the kids Ice Age 2 and 3 which we've watched the last two Friday Night Movie Nights, and Ethan and Avery sent Jax a travel-sized Hungry, Hungry Hippos game and a little princess scene for Ava. We played Hungry, Hungry Hippos for atleast an hour that afternoon and several times since. It's perfect for Jax since he has a hard time operating the full-sized Hungry Hippos.

We had every intention of going swimming, but it rained on our plans. Instead, we stayed home, played monster trucks, read books and colored (at this point, our things still weren't here). When Daddy got home we enjoyed some of Jax's favorite things, pizza and watermelon, then washed it all down with chocolate cake and ice cream! I think the kids liked it:

So did Andy.

We had a great day just hanging out together. The only person missing was Uncle Dusty. For the last two years we've celebrated each of our birthdays with Uncle Dusty, so I think the kids were half expecting to hear his special knock at the door and for him to come celebrate with us at our new home. Ava suggested we send him a piece of chocolate cake, but decided maybe just sending him a picture of it would be better.
Jax excitedly told us all day, "It's my birthday!" "I'm the birthday boy!" He insisted he was four like Ava, but eventually caved and settled on being two. Thank goodness, I can't let him grow up too fast.