Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

10 uses for soft blocks

I read Marcie's blog post about about playing with your kids and it inspired me to offer suggestions for N2's play instead of just playing along with the same old thing.  Marcie wrote about Amelia building towers with the soft blocks using her teeth only so I thought we should try that too.  That led to trying to use the blocks in so many ways!  I thought I would share some ideas of how to play with the soft blocks.

1.  Build towers only using your teeth (thanks Marcie!  That was fun!)
2.  Build trains and try to walk just on the blocks
3.  Order the blocks by color and numbers
4.  Build towers on top of people's heads
5.  Using a large spoon, balance a block on it and try to walk around the house
6.  Put a block under your chin and try to talk around the house
7.  Balance a block on your head and walk around the house
8.  Squeeze a block between your knees and walk around (this was tough!)
9.  Play Bozo buckets with the blocks (we just threw the blocks into a cardboard box that was going to be recylced)
10.  Use Lincoln Logs and try to pick up the blocks-kind of like chopsticks but use 2 hands

I bet there are more things you can do with these blocks rather than just build towers with them.  What other ideas do you have?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I am back to having a "store" in my classroom and so I've been on the hunt for really cheap stuff for my students to "buy" (they earn "money" for having good behavior).  Shameless plug-hey, if you have any stuff you want to get rid of, I'll take it and add it to my "store"!  I found some really cheap spider rings at Wal-mart so I bought them and decided to give some to N2 (heck, they came 100 in a package!)  They LOVE them!  Natalie loves to wear one on each finger.  Second photo courtsey of Marcie

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from N2!  (Photos courtesy Marcie)

 We attempted to get the cousins all in a photo together.  Marcie said this is the best one.  2 out of the 4 are looking and smiling!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mini Carmel Apples-Taste Tested

After N2's nap I gave them their carmel apple.  I was curious to see how they turned out.  I have to say neither one of them ate the whole thing.  Noah ate all the carmel off and ate none of the apple.  Natalie had a few bites and that was it because she wanted to go outside.  The mini carmel apples did not keep well!  As soon as N2 bit into the carmel, it started dripping.  Obviously the apples were not dry enough and obviously these apples need to be eaten right away!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mini Carmel Apples

So Marcie told me about an idea for mini carmel apples that I could make for N2's Halloween party at pre-school.  I thought they sounded like a really cute idea.  I searched around and found out that they don't store well and should be eaten soon.  So I nixed that idea for the party but wanted to make them just because.  I thought I would make them for my book club on Wednesday so I tried a trial run on Sunday.  Boy were they a failure!  I had a hard time using the melon baller on the apples.  I bent my melon baller!  I also learned that you can't start the ball remotely close to where you previously balled the apple.  Perhaps I needed a bigger apple!  I maybe got 4 balls out of one apple.  I made sure to dry the apples really well on a paper towel.

Then the next step was the caramel.  I melted just a small amount of Kraft caramels and the first time I burned them and the caramel turned really hard.  The next time the carmel was fine but but not dippable. I molded the carmel around the apples. That ended up working but it wasn't pretty and there was a LOT of caramel on each apple.  I tried rolling the caramel apples in Halloween sprinkles but the sprinkles wouldn't stick the the caramel.  I had to smoosh the sprinkles on.

Then I needed a stick.  I tried inserting a pretzel stick into the apple for the stick but they would just break.  I had to first make a hole with a skewer and then put the pretzel stick in.  The pretzel didn't work very well as a handle because it would fall out as you tried to eat the apple.

I ended up making 4-one for each of us.  N2's are sitting out so we'll see how they are when they wake up.  I need to investigate how to make these better.  I think I need to thin out the caramel so that I can dip.  I'm not sure it will stick to the apple though if it is thinned out.  I did read somewhere to first dip it in chocolate, let it harden and then dip it in caramel. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween shirt

I could not find any cute Halloween shirts for Noah.  I tried Kohls, Target, Wal-mart, Gymboree and Old Navy.  Nothing.  There were some scary shirts but that's about it.  Marcie convinced me that I could make my own shirt so while I was at my parent's house with N2 over Columbus Day we made a shirt for Noah.  I asked Noah if he wanted a spider or a bat and he picked a spider.  There are some adorable shirts on etsy!  Here's what we came up with.
It was quite itchy on the back so I got some iron on muslin at Joann's and that fixed it!  It took some convincing for him to wear it on Saturday but he did.  He also had some spider socks too.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Down by the Station, arranged by Noah and Natalie

Noah and Natalie perform their very own version of "Down by the Station" with orginal accompaniment.

Isn't it beautiful?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Who needs a Halloween costume

when mommy's sweater vest makes an awesome Obi-wan Kanobi costume for a 2 year old?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I wanted to do a fun project with N2 over Columbus Day weekend when Brian was gone.  I searched some blogs and found a simple painting project to do with toilet paper rolls.  I thought this sounded like fun!  Noah took some convincing to try it but Natalie jumped right in.  She just wanted to paint with 2 shades of blue.  Then she added purple.  Very harmonious.  At the very end she threw in brown.  I really love how this turned out.

I thought the plates of paint looked cool too :)   Noah wanted lots of colors on his.  He also switched sides of the toilet paper roll so not to mix colors.  Although he did have to double dip since he had 5 colors!

I though they would want to paint for a while but this only held their attention for about 10 minutes or less.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Apple Picking

We went apple picking two weeks ago (I meant to blog about this a while ago but I never finished the post).  We thought it was supposed to be chilly but it turned out to be a gorgeous day!  We had quite a few orchards to chose from and we had no idea how to chose!  (McHenry county has TONS of apple orchards in case anyone is looking for one).  We actually changed where we were going once we started driving.  We ended up at Woodstock Country Orchard.  It was exactly what we were looking for-just apple trees!  No commerciality (is that a word?)-no jumping pillow, no corn maze, nothing else-just apples.  When we got there, we  found out that they had slashed the prices-bonus!  They were out of some apples but we discovered some new ones!  We picked Cortlands, Senshu (yummy!), Melrose (my new favorite apple), Jonathans and Golden Delicious.

They had a limited amount of most of their apples except for Jonathans.  Those trees were just laden with apples!  We had started with Cortlands, then moved over to Melrose and Senshu.  Poor N2 kept looking for apples and couldn't find any!  There were only a couple left on each of the trees and quite a few trees with none.  Brian and I would find the apples and then N2 would pick them for us.  They had fun and they also had fun eating apples.  It was hard to keep them from taking a bite of each apple.  They did finally eat a whole apple or two or three.  And they rarely eat apples!

 (look at Noah's face in the first picture to see how hard apple picking is!)
 The orchard had wagons for people to use-that was really nice!
While we were at the apple orchard we decided to pick some raspberries.  I never know if N2 will eat raspberries or not.  I picked one for each of them on the way in and they gobbled it down which is why I decided to pick raspberries.  I would pick some and put them in the basket and N2 would grab them out and eat them all.  This kept happening until I told them that they couldn't eat any out of the basket but that they could pick as many from the bushes as they wanted to eat.  That seemed to work!  Noah was a great helper and held the basket around his neck for us.  He didn't eat any out of the basket!
We got 1/2 bushel, 1/2 peck and a pint of raspberries for just $18!  We didn't come home with a pint of raspberries but between what we came home with and what N2 ate at the orchard, we had a pint :)  We'll definitely head to this orchard again!

**Note now that our apples are all gone.  Senshu need to be eaten right away.  Within one week of picking them they became mushy.  They were very crisp right after we bought them.  Maybe they need to be stored in a cooler place?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tape Project

I had seen on a blog an idea for a cool art project a while back and I never did it.  Then the other day I was looking at my cousin Kim's blog and she had done the same project with her son.  So when we had some spare time before dinner one day, I decided to find various kinds of tape and try the project too.  I found some black electrical tape, duct tape, blue painters tape and regular scotch tape.  I ripped off pieces for N2 and they put them on their paper.  At first Noah didn't want to participate but once he saw how much fun Natalie was having that he tried it too.

It was funny to watch them because Natalie just piled piece after piece on her paper without regards for where she was putting them.  Noah was deliberate in spreading his pieces out on the page.  Every once in a while they would pick up a piece and get it folded while trying to put in on the paper and hand it to me and say "this one doesn't work."  Here are their final projects.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Moon

Noah is fascinated by the moon.  He loves moon books (well he loves Goodnight Moon and anything related to Goodnight Moon).  He's so excited every time we see the moon.  As we were driving home from dinner last night at 7:15, Noah saw the moon (it was very bright).  We asked him if one day he was going to travel to the moon.  He said yes.  I then asked him how he was going to get there.  He told us "climb a ladder-Daddy's ladder."  (He did say it would be a long ladder and he might fall down)
That little white dot to the right of Noah's head is the moon.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Spur of the Moment Project

The other day we did a spur of the moment project with tape (I'll post pictures another day) so today Noah kept asking to do a project.  They do a lot of projects at school so I think he's become accustomed to a project a day.  I didn't have any ideas (well I do have one but it wouldn't be able to be completed in a day) and I forgot to start searching online until close to the end of nap time.  Plus I don't have tons of supplies.  For some reason a project with baby wipes was stuck in my mind (I seem to remember a use for them but I couldn't remember what it was).  I found a way to tie dye baby wipes!  It wasn't the project I was thinking of but I thought it looked fun.

Here's what you need:
baby wipes
rubber bands

Twist up the baby wipes tightly and then secure in various places with rubber bands.  Color in between the rubber bands with markers.  Make sure to color heavily.  Undo the rubber bands and you will be able to see your tie dyed rubber bands!
Noah at first did NOT want to do this project.  He wanted to go downstairs and make a project with tape.  (He was kind of cranky after his nap)  I was trying to make dinner as well so we couldn't go downstairs.  Natalie and I made the first one-the top one on her side.  The directions said to roll it up tightly so I assumed it meant roll it up like a log.  Clearly that was not the right way.  Noah decided to participate after the first one Natalie made.  N2 needed me to help color. They weren't accurate enough to get the whole thing colored (nor was their attention span long enough).  They also couldn't roll it up or put the rubber bands on.  They would hand me rubber bands and tell me where to put them.  So not a very independent project but fun.  I also have to note that our markers would stop giving off color after a while-the tip would be clear.  I would have to color on paper to get the color back.  The examples I saw online had more color so maybe different markers would work better or maybe wetter baby wipes?  I'm not sure.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Camping Part 3

The rest of the day N2 enjoyed riding their big wheels around on the concrete pads of the handicapped camping sites (there weren't any people there) and pretending to go shopping.  There was a parking block (not sure the name for those concrete things!) and so it made them think they were in a parking lot and I guess they equate parking lots with going shopping.  They would park their big wheel and go buy "food."  I love their imaginations at this age!

Brian, Dan, Paul and I played a little dodgeball with the playground balls we had brought.  We kept throwing them in the woods.  We enjoyed dinner and then had "cake" for Brian's birthday.  I made some brownies and we had candles and sang happy birthday.  N2 were quite satisfied!

Bedtime was interesting.  We put them down in the tent and Natalie would not sleep in her sleeping bag.  It was kind of chilly so we covered her with her blanket and put her sleeping bag over top of that.  They were pretty quiet after we put them down (in the morning I realized some of the window zippers were unzipped a little so they must have moved around after we put them down!)  They slept pretty well in the tent except for Natalie waking up in the middle of the night cold and having to sleep with Brian for a while.  She finally decided she could sleep in her sleeping bag so Brian was able to have his sleeping bag back!  Noah was up quite early-6:15 or so.  There was no stirring in the campground at that time and Noah decided it was time to play with Natalie.  When we tried to split them up, Noah started screaming which woke some people up.  Oh well.

In the morning we went down to the lake area and rented a paddle boat.  Brian thought N2 might enjoy it.  Noah did NOT want to get on the boat but Natalie did.  Which is stange because she was the one who hated the canoe!  Natalie got to steer the paddle boat and she sat on Brian's lap for a while-Brian said that made it a lot harder to paddle!

Noah decided he finally wanted to ride in the paddle boat, so they came back to pick him up.  Noah literally rode from one pier to the other.  That's all he wanted!
That was the end of our trip.  I think we'll go camping again.  Maybe on a warmer day!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Camping Part 2

We decided to take a walk in the woods after playing at the playground.  Grandma Weidner has a tree there so we hiked out to try to find her tree.  Hiking time was during nap time so N2 were a little tired and needed to be carried for most of the time.  They did walk a little bit but the ground was uneven or there was horse poop or we had to cross a stream so they needed to be carried.  They were troopers but unfortunately we never found Grandma's tree.  Brian thinks we took the wrong path.

We headed back to our campsites and decided to try to get N2 to rest in the tent.  We didn't expect them to sleep but we did want them to get some quiet time as they were really showing signs of being tired.  N2 thought the tent was a really fun place to play!  We heard lots of giggling and we saw parts of the tent bulging out in places.  Then finally we saw this:

They figured out the zippers and found it really fun to find all the zippers all over the tent to play with them.  Clearly that was the end of rest time!
More to come later!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Camping Part 1

Brian has been wanting to take N2 camping for a couple months now.  His father's day present was camping gear.  We had a day set up in the summer to go camping at Starved Rock.  The date arrived and we had to cancel due to the weather forecast-about a 90% chance of thunderstorms.  Guess how many thunderstorms there were?  ZERO.  But we had canceled the site so we couldn't even go.  We couldn't find another time to go this summer.  Brian decided for his birthday that he wanted to go camping.  His parents and siblings met us at Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park on Saturday.  We had 8 adults and 3 children under 3 on 3 camp sites.

We set up our tent and had a picnic lunch.  N2 were great helpers (or at least they tried to be!).  They were so excited because Grandma and Grandpa brought their big wheels!  So they rode those for part of the time while we were setting up.  They were hungry though so they kept coming over to me and asking to eat.
After lunch we headed to the playground which consisted of a metal slide, a merry go round and swings.  Apparently the equipment is the same from when Brian and his family went camping when they were kids.  However N2 loved the merry go round and the slide.  They liked to ride and push the merry go round.  They wanted daddy to ride the merry go round and Brian was sport enough to ride even though he HATES going round and round.

More to come another day.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Better Safe Than Sorry

I came home from work the other day and N2 were riding their bikes (tricycles and little bike) on the driveway with daddy watching them.  I drove up to see Natalie wearing her bicycle helmet while riding her bike.  I guess you can never be too safe!

In the past she has thrown fits wearing it in the trailer on Brian's bike so I have no idea why she decided she should wear it on her bike!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Twins are fun

We get a lot of fighting around here because Natalie wants to play with what Noah has and vice versa.  It's frustrating for everyone involved.  But we also have some really fun moments that could only happen with twins or siblings really close in age.  The other day Natalie and Noah decided to give each other rides in their shopping carts.  I'm not sure how it started but they had a great time and they even took turns with who was pushing and who was riding.  It seemed harmless enough so I let it continue.  I think it may have ended in the shopping cart tipping but oh well, it was fun while it lasted!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Noah's photography

After seeing Natalie take pictures Noah decided he needed to take pictures.  He's more about pushing the button rather than looking into the screen to see if he is taking a picture of anything.  Most of his pictures are of nothing except for his lap which turn out really blurry because it's way too close!  I helped him to take some photos and he decided to study the bookcases and the backpacks.

 When we were at the train museum in Union Noah snapped this picture while we were riding the train.