Friday, November 25, 2011


Dear Santa,
Colin has big ideas for you.
Please don't bring anything that won't fit in our house.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fix It Helpers

Last Sunday Daddy asked Uncle D to come over to help him put in our new storm door on the front of the house. Uncle D kindly agreed to help. We fed him dinner as payment. I was trying to finish watching the Steeler game, so I sent the kids out to "help." I'm so kind.

Colin had been telling us all day that he was going to get his tool box out and help fix the door. I don't think ever got out his tool box, but he did help. Gillian mostly supervised. And banged on things with the rubber mallet.

Apparently Colin got in on the rubber mallet action too.

Uncle D and Daddy did a great job. Not much cursing. Nothing broke. No extra runs to the hardware store. It was done and done correctly in 2 1/2 hours. Just in time for dinner. Oh, and the Steelers won.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cats and Toys

Seems the kitties have been enjoying the kiddies' toys lately. One day last week we caught Weasel attacking G's Cinderella dress. She would bat it and pounce on it and wiggle inside it and finally she settled for a nap on top of it.

Momo has also been enjoying the C&G's castle tent. Especially when the kids pile up all the blankets and pillows inside to make a space fit for a King. Only befitting.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Two Bike Riders!

Colin put on his helmet! And off he went!

Thankfully the weather has cooperated for a few more bike rides this month!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Applesauce and Candid Cameras

Our assignment for Thanksgiving at Great-Grandma's house is applesauce. Oh, and green salad. GraGra gave us a big bag of apples last weekend when we were visiting, so I thought it would be a fun post-nap afternoon activity to whip up our applesauce. (And then freeze it until the big day)

I cut and cooked the apples while the kids napped and let it cool for a bit. Then we set up the food mill and off we went.

While it was Gillian's turn to turn the mill, Colin got bored. He found the camera and wanted to take some pictures. Ok, fine. Here's his handy work:
(I need to get him to work on taking FLATTERING pictures)

Of course, then G wanted a turn. She took a more "still life" approach.

So, our applesauce turned out super yummy. GraGra had GOOD apples. It was so good that we volunteered to bring applesauce to Grammy's house for Thanksgiving too!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Breakfast Tradition

Reading the cereal box. You know you did it too.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Drive By Penguining.

Last Sunday while we were getting some dinner ready our phone rang. It was my cousin Matt. He wanted to talk to Colin and Gillian. Ummm, ok. Not something that usually happens, but SURE. So, he told them to go outside and look under their deck! So we did.

The kids and I were THRILLED to see a blow up yard penguin!!! Woo hoo! C&G LOVE those blow-up decorations.

Daddy? NOT.AT.ALL. Hates them.

HA! Matt and Rachel had sneaked into our yard, set up the penguin, and sped out of the drive-way before we realized anything. Umm, thanks guard cats.

Daddy was SO thrilled. Good thing it was Matt....if anyone else had tried this, it wouldn't have gone over nearly as well!

So, meet Puffy. That's what we named him! The kids like him. After Thanksgiving he'll move around to the front of the house!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Election Day Fun

Tuesday was a beautiful, sunny, warm November day around here (very much like Election Day 2008, my first day out of the house after the kids were born!), so we took advantage of the day!

I had to work at 11:00, so the kids and I got out the door early and went to vote. It's pretty hard to explain "voting" to three year olds. Who knows what they thought we were doing! When we got home, we parked outside and got the bikes out for some fun!

Hey! Look who decided to put on his helmet to ride!



Colin insisted on giving his giraffe a ride on the back of his bike. He fit perfectly.

They were having a blast!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pumpkin Fun

The Friday before Halloween we decided to carve our previously picked pumpkins. It was pretty chilly so we put down a tarp in the foyer and just had our fun there. It was Daddy's job to cut and the kids and I scooped guts.

First up was G's "warty" pumpkin. She chose this one and specifically wanted a bumpy one.

Apparently warty pumpkins are TOUGH.
We had a "tough to cut" contest. My beautiful white and orange striped pumpkin was the toughest (and it was rotten inside, boo), then G's warty guy, and then, the easiest, was Colin's traditional smooth pumpkin. Daddy is going to encourage us to buy only smooth pumpkins next year.

Despite the tough squash, the tops did come off and the kids and I scooped guts.
The kids did a great job scooping. They didn't really like to touc the stuff with their hands (I LOVE that stuff), but they did a really persistent job with their spoons. Colin was cracking me up as he was working, he has talking and talking and talking to his pumpkin. I can't remember exactly what he was saying; he was just making small talk.

Next up, the kids told Daddy what kind of faces they wanted. They picked which shapes to make the eyes and nose, and then what kind of mouth they wanted (happy, sad, scary, surprised).
Colin picked "Suprised" Jack O'Lantern this year. I like it.

Gillian chose a "Happy Jack O'Lantern" for her bumpy guy!

So, 2011 Halloween Jack O'Lanterns!
Goofy kids! Cute pumpkins though.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I'm Thomas!

Colin is a little Thomas obsessed at present. He runs around "Woot Wooting!" all over the place. It's actually become common for people at the play ground to think that his name is Thomas... which is understandable as Colin runs up to them and yells "I'm Thomas".

Anyway, a couple of months ago, Lea asked the kids what they wanted to be for Halloween. Colin said that he wanted to be Thomas. So, Lea - being a good mother, and encouraging her children's dreams - said "Sure, Dada will make you a Thomas costume." And so began my project... Slowly at first. I would come home from work and Lea would say "How's Thomas coming", and I would say "Thanks for that. Has he changed his mind yet?"

Alas as we drew within three weeks of Halloween, I determined that Colin wasn't going to change his mind. So I started in earnest. First, you have to know what it is that you're going to build. So I started looking for pictures of Thomas from which I could take measurements. Eventually I found one that appeared to be serviceable and proceeded to make a measured drawing. It turned out alright, but it turns out that I failed to correct for some perspective issues in the original image.


(Note some key stats for Colin on the right-hand side)

With some dimensions in hand, it was time to figure out how to implement this machine in cardboard. So it was time for some shop drawings (though the final product doesn't exactly match the dimensions on the shop drawing):


(A little math on the bottom figuring out the dimensions for Thomas's curved roof)

It was then time to start actual construction. Fortunately we have a large supply of cardboard boxes in the basement from diapers and the eventuality that we may someday move. I selected stock that had been Weasel damaged (Weasel loves to scratch cardboard boxes) and went to work cutting out the major structural elements of Thomas. Alas we have no pictures of this portion of the process.

However, here's a picture of my injury from not using the right tool for the job. I was using a pair of scissors as a knife and cut myself on the blades. I didn't realize that I had cut myself, and I was looking at spots of red on the cardboard and thinking "I wonder where that came from?"

Here's a picture of two of the three major sub-assemblies:

...and Colin trying on the proto-Thomas (Colin told me that it was awesome, and it didn't even look like Thomas yet!):

The last major sub-assembly was the roof of Thomas's cabin. I was a little concerned about how well the curved roof would turn out, but it actually turned out better than I expected (seen below in a partially painted state).

From there on out the project was mostly just painting. I hate painting with brushes, but spray paint is more fun.

Masking components to paint multiple colors was kind of a pain...

...but worth it in the end:

Thomas still needed more detailing, and I debated about whether I should paint them on or not - with the other option being to use some of the red duct tape that I had used in the construction for some of the red lines on Thomas. At the time I thought that the masking would take more time than the tape, but in retrospect, I think that the painting would have been faster. I do sincerely wish that I had painted the yellow 1's on his sides (I used yellow electrical tape). Still, he looks pretty decent (though missing a face).

And this brings us to the final question: What to do about Thomas's face? The Thomas is pretty awesome, and very 3D, so a 3D Thomas face seems appropriate to me (and Uncle Al). Lea, however, thought that a 2D face would be fine. I just couldn't bring myself to lower my Thomas with a 2D face except as a last resort. So, I bought some floral arranging foam and proceeded to carve a 3D Thomas face.

Alas, the green floral foam turned out a darker gray than I had hoped to get, but I think that it'll do.

And here's the finished product:

As mentioned above, I do have a few regrets... not painting the details, and here's the big one: there's a seam in one of the boxes forming Thomas's body that I forgot to tape before I painted him. If you look at the picture of the un-detailed Thomas sitting in the drive way, you'll see it. It kills me everytime that I do, but it would be a big pain to fix at this point, so I'm living with it not happily.

Also, as much as I complained during the process, I did enjoy it. I might even consider building other costumes in the future.