Saturday, December 31, 2011

Build-A-Bear Workshop

I fully admit, it was a moment of weakness.  Vivian's hearing test went well, it was the holidays...

I'd never been in a Build-A-Bear Workshop before.  We don't have one in Bozeman.  The kids and I went in to check it out at Rimrock Mall in Billings while Mr. Yost was feeding Vivian her bottle after our lunch.  We looked around a little and I thought I was going to be super tough.  I had Mommy nerves of steel that would allow me to say "no" to any pleas for building a bear.  

Then we watch other kids getting their chosen animals stuffed.  The nice lady doing the stuffing has them pick out a heart to put into their animal.  She tells them cute things like "rub it on your muscles to make your bunny strong" and "rub it on your belly so he'll feel better after all the doggy treats you'll feed him" and "close your eyes, hug it and make a wish for your new friend." 

I was mush.  

So, back to the front of the store we went to have them pick their animal.  I honestly don't even remember if the kids asked for one.  At that point I couldn't bear (no pun intended) leaving the store without one. 

What is funny is that both kids picked animals that weren't bears.  A dog for Stella and a bunny for Hudson.
 Hudson getting his stuffed.
 The next station after the stuffing is giving them a "bath".  It is a an air sprayer that blows their fur all around while they brush them.

 All stuffed and washed and ready for some clothes.
 Stella picked this outfit first, but later changed to a pink shirt with sequins.  She really wanted the outfits that had full dresses and shoes and purses, etc.  But see, I really WAS tough.  Just one shirt was all each of them got. (The bows were free.)
 Vivian liked Build-A-Bear Workshop too!
 When you check out, you get a "house" for your animal to go home in.  Seriously, the marketing is great.  On the way out the door, Mr. Yost was goading me with things like, "What happened to the Purge Princess?" and "This doesn't seem like something a Minimalist Mama would do" and "Didn't you just make the kids give away like 1,241 stuffed animals?"
Yeah, he was right. But it was worth it.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Barnyard by Stella

My first post is about dogs.  I am 6 years old.  This is me and my new stuffed animal.  I got it at the Build-A-Bear Workshop in Billings.  Her name is Chocolate Chip Cookie Sparkle Shine.  

 Now I am happy, because I got to meet a new person.  She is a female puppy.  She is 3 months old. 
 This is my brother's rabbit, Eaty.  He is very, very cute.
 This is Chocolate Chip Cookie.  It's the same one as at the top.  And what's different is that shes wearing a sparkly, pink shirt. 
 This is me.  I am 6 years old. I am the owner of Chocolate Chip Cookie. 
This is my brother.  He is 3 years old.  He is holding Eaty and he is pretty cute.

Monday, December 12, 2011

We've created a monster

Stella's reading and writing has TAKEN OFF since starting kindergarten a few months ago.  She entertains us daily with little things here and there.  We never know what is going to come out on paper.  I love it that she is fearless in her writing.  She doesn't worry if she is spelling something absolutely correct or how things look.  She just has an idea and runs with it. 

Here are a couple favorites:

 Here's a sign we found taped to the playroom door the other day

A famous
nosed reindeer

 This is a table of contents for a binder she's been putting together - 
complete with page numbers

Animal facts - page 3
Stella's letters - page 5
Picture Section - page 4
Private - page 6
ABCD page - page 1
Comic page - page 2

This is page 6  "Private"
She told us it is a list of all the bad words she knows.  No translation needed :)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Has your house ever looked like this?

If you ever wondered what a house with three kids really looks like behind closed doors, well, here you go. 

This is why I didn't have a blog post for the past week. 

We had good intentions this weekend of:

getting the Christmas tree - which we did (see it way in the back?)

putting lights up on our house - which we did

starting a new, one-week meal plan from Real Simple magazine - which we did (salmon with gingery green beans and bok choy - yum)

So, on all those counts, the weekend was a success.  The house cleaning?  Not so much.

I'm pretty sure the kids will remember the Christmas tree hunt, the sparkling lights and the yummy dinner.  Let's hope they forget about the sheer chaos that ensued during the process!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Vivian es de cinco meses

Thats right, Vivian is five months!

Why the Spanish?  I have no idea really.  It could be that Hudson learns Spanish at his preschool, so I see it written every morning.  It could be that someone recently told me everyone should know at least one other language and that it should probably be Spanish.

How did I figure out how to write, "Vivian is five months" in Spanish, you might ask. 

Two words: Google Translate

Try it. 

It is quite entertaining to type things in English, see how they are written in Spanish and then click the little speaker button to hear the pronunciation.  For example, I typed, "our home is a pigsty" and got, "nuestra casa es una pocilga." Everything sounds so much cooler in a different language. 

I digress...

Here are some pics of a typical evening in the life of our sweet five-month-old Bivers (one of her nicknames that morphed from Hudson not being able to pronounce the "v" before she was born). 

 Look Stell, I can hold my own bottle!

 One of many kisses during her day.

 Her first food!  Big sister Stella got the honors.

 Apparently she was quite ready to start eating cereal.  Give it to me!  Give it to me!


A beer and a babe - the life of a grandpa

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Product review: Nikwax TX.Direct Wash-In

 Along the path to becoming a minimalist mama, I'm encountering situations that call for inventive thinking.  This weekend it revolved around Stella's snowpants.  We have two pairs of nice Obermeyer bib overalls that we received second-hand.  They still look and fit great, but we've noticed they don't repel water like they should.  Not surprising after repeated washings.  Rather than tossing them out and spending a lot of money on new ones, I wanted to find a way to rehab the existing pairs.

I sent Mr. Yost to REI for a solution.  He returned with a bottle of Nikwax TX.Direct Wash-In.  The bottle cost around $10 and can be used on 3 garments.  I figured if it worked, it was worth the $3. 

 I need to disclose that we couldn't find any directions on the bottle.  It didn't say anywhere how much to use, how to use it, etc.  We looked on the company's website only to have it say, "see the bottle for directions."  Finally, a Google search led me to peel away the sticker label on the back to reveal the information.  It was a little irritating that there wasn't "peel here" or something like that.  Nevertheless, we were now ready to give it a try.

 We did a "before" test by dropping some water onto the backside of the snow pants.  You can see that the first initial drops did bead up, but within a few seconds, they'd soaked in.

We ran them in our front-load washer with two caps full of the product, dried them on low, then tested them again. 

This picture is right after I dropped the water.  My trusted assistant was out wrangling kids during the "after" test, so I don't have the exact same picture as above.  You can see that virtually all of the water is beading up.

*The pants look like they are a different color than before, but I think it is just the difference in light from morning to afternoon.

This picture was taken about a minute after I put the water on.  I then carried them out to the garage for Mr. Yost to see and the water still hadn't soaked in.  I am calling it a success!  If I notice any results that change my conclusion after she's worn them in the snow, I'll update the post.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgivings past

While looking through old photos on the computer this evening I came across these pictures from Thanksgiving weekend 2003. I felt compelled to share. 

Here are Mr. Yost and I doing....what?  It appears to me that we must have been "stalking" our Christmas tree.  Perhaps the hunter-orange vests gave us this idea? 

 Ahhhh, the fresh smell of pine.  This is what you take pictures of before you have kids, I guess.

Oh look, now we are dragging it down the hill.  Definitely picture worthy.

 Hi, Boise - thanks for helping us tie our tree to the top of the Suby. 

Yes, those were the days...Carharts, fleece vests and a dirty Suby...good times, good times.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Purge Project: Lions & Tigers & Bears - Oh My!

We've been cooped-up in the house the last two weekends with various family members having various illnesses.  While it hasn't been thrilling, it was a good opportunity to go through more items in my ongoing quest to be a moderately minimalist Montana Mama.  Go ahead - try to say that 3 times real fast

Weekend total of items that will no longer be floating around our house: 165!

Animals that are not stuffed:
Looks can be deceiving with this group.  There were a TON of little tiny plastic bugs floating around our house that got added to the category.  Am I happy that those 123 little buggers will no longer be lurking under-foot everywhere I go?  You betcha!

Started with: 143!
Each child kept 10
Final purge tally: 123

 ~ A few of the survivors ~
"Look out baby bear!  There is a Texas Longhorn RIGHT behind you!"

My coats and jackets:
This one was interesting because I have a fondness for coats and jackets, yet we don't technically have a coat closet.  What this means is that they have been stashed all over the house and garage.  I was surprised when I finally rounded them all up to realize I had 13.  This doesn't even include "technical" wear such as ski jackets and fleeces. 
Started with: 13
Kept: 6
Final purge tally: 7 (donated 5 and will try to consign 2)

Horses & ponies:
I gave Stella the task of choosing her 10 favorite items from the group of horses and ponies I rounded up.  Once again, I used the yellow dots on the floor and then just left her to the challenge.  It was very surprising to me that she quickly picked her favorites and only had nine.  She looked up at me and said, "Do I have to pick 10?"  Hah!  Here I am thinking I am such a mean mommy and she was totally content with 9.  In the end she did pick one more, but it made me realize once again that I don't give the kids enough credit.

Started with: 25
Stella kept 10
Final purge tally: 15

Cars & trucks:
I wish I would have taken pictures of this group, because it was interesting to see that Hudson picked the 10 smallest cars and trucks from the pile.  No big battery-operated, bells and whistles vehicles for this guy.  He preferred the little Matchbox car type of toys.  The 20 that we removed from circulation freed up a lot of space because of their size.
Started with: 30
Hudson kept 10
Final purge tally: 20

Sunday, November 13, 2011

New ear molds

Vivian had her appointment last Wednesday at the audiologist.  The new, and bigger ear molds were in, so the audiologist took the old ones off and fitted the new ones.  We got to bring the old ones home to keep in her baby box to show what her very first pair looked like! 

I tried to take some pictures to show the difference, but my photography skills were lacking today.  The main difference is that the part that goes in her ear is longer.  (The new one is hooked to the hearing aid on the left) There is also a little extra piece molded in at the top that is meant to help secure them in her ear. 

The next steps are to have a check-up in a month with the audiologist, schedule another ABR test in Billings in early 2012 and finally get together with the coordinator from the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind.  You know, in all our free time...

She seems to be growing and thriving right before our eyes.  No rolling-over yet, but it could be any day.  She loves playing with toys.  Especially ones she can get up to her mouth so she can drool on them. 

Hudson seems to have a special bond with her that includes "helping" her roll over and over and over.  He is also fond of using her as a prop to show off his amazing leaping skills.  No special treatment for this little girl!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Photo Booth - the app that never gets old

Whenever we've had a long day and need a laugh, nothing gets us going like Photo Booth.  Here are some fun ones I picked out of the lineup from the past year.

Storing nuts for the winter

 Contemplative artist 
(this is one that I found later without even knowing she was on the computer at the time)

 Flash forward 50 years?

Early Saturday morning

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Stuffed animal slim-down

Last Sunday's purge project was focused on the kids' stuffed animals.  I know, I know, I'm a really mean mommy, aren't I?  Kids are supposed to have stuffed animals during their childhood.  They promote creative play and foster attachments.  Why would I want to take that away?

Let me give you a little back-story...

We have a fantastic bonus room/play room over the garage.  Over the past few years we've done some work to make it a cozy, homey place for us to all hang out.  The idea is to have it be a multi-purpose area for watching movies, playtime, etc.  The newest addition was a sectional couch that we absolutely love.  The odd part of this room is that is a long, rectangular shape with the door right in the middle.  Recently, we (or I should say Mr. Yost) got so tired of all the toys littering the room, that he decided one half of the long room would be a toy-free zone.  Here is a picture of that side:

 aaahhhh, peace and tranquility

And now, the other side...

 ahhhhh!  mayhem!

He even went so far as to put a piece of tape down the middle so that the kids would have a visual barrier.  Don't you love how it even goes up the side of the toy box?

As you can see, the kids have PLENTY of toys.  The funny thing is, hardly any of the stuffed animals were even in this room.  Most of them were in their bedroom.  I obviously still have a lot of toy-purging projects to come.

While Mr. Yost and the kids were gone, I rounded up as many of the stuffed animals as I could find.  I ended up with 86 little critters.

I decided I was going to let the kids each pick their 10 favorite animals.  To tell you the truth, I was expecting a huge resistance.  I thought Stella would throw a fit and ask for more, so I was starting low with 10 so I'd have some negotiating room.  Before they got home, I put two sets of 10 little yellow sticker dots on the floor.  This would be where they could each put their choices.  You know, like a game - wink, wink.

As soon as they got home, I went to tell them about the "special challenge" I had for them in the playroom.  Hudson had fallen asleep in the car, so Stella came up by herself.

 To my amazement, she didn't balk at only being able to pick 10.  She got right to business filling up her yellow dots.  Along the way she would find ones she liked better and traded them out for the ones she'd already chosen.

 When Hudson woke up, we asked him if he wanted to pick his 10.  He was in a "just woke up" crabby mood.  So, we ended up picking on his behalf. 

 Hudson's menagerie

Stella's friends

Final tally:
Started with 86 stuffed animals

Stella: 10
Hudson: 10
Mr. Yost: 2 (he claims they are for his classroom?)

Bagged up for a garage sale: 64!