Tuesday, May 31, 2011

This boy and his trains

Thomas.  Percy.  Duncan.  Arthur.  

Mason lives and breathes his toy train engines.  I cannot keep my living room floor free of them.  And the endless supply of track that comes with them.  And train cars.  And a train station, and a bridge, and a zip line. 
Santa brought Mason his first motorized Thomas the Train set this last Christmas, when it took all the men present to correctly assemble the track.  Since then, Mason has mastered the art of setting up the track on his own.  Hence his semi-permanent residence on my living room floor.
He takes the occasional break, when I assume he daydreams about trains.
"I wish I had lots and LOTS of trains.  We need to go to the store and buy more trains."

Mason often lies down right next to his track to get as close to the action as possible.
 He probably does this so Thomas appears huge and life-like.  Like when I was little and I'd stick my head in Barbie's house.

"Mom, do you like trains?"
"Mom, can you help me build a giant train track?  Pleeease?"
Oh, Mason.  How can I say no?  And what's that on your chin?

Just the beginning

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pick me! Pick me!

My mom helped us make a video so we could enter our backyard in a HGTV makeover contest.  It turned out pretty cute (especially compared to the other video entries on their website!).  Please click on the link below and give our video a good rating!  (You don't even have to watch it...I'm just saying)


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Laundry Day

Saturday is laundry day.  Some families do one load every day, and that's how they keep their laundry situation under control.  For us, Saturday works.  For one thing, Chad is usually not on a "normal" weekend schedule, so Saturday is hardly ever a day when we're too busy or out of town.  For another, our electric plan allows us a cheaper rate on weekends, so we can run all our appliances all day long on Saturdays and save money.
However, sometimes the one-big-laundry-day approach backfires, and the pile of unfolded clothes reaches astounding heights.  And sometimes the task of folding trickles on into Sunday (which is a day of rest, after all), which pushes it to Monday...and it is not unheard of to have a pile that sits around til Thursday.  And there is usually a load that sits forgotten in the dryer until the next Saturday rolls around.  There it is.  I said it.  The secret's out.

We all scream for ice cream!

Friday May 27th, 2011
(The big box behind Bree is the wall unit for our master bathroom's new shower/tub...Storing it in the kitchen is not ideal. I know this.)

Everything is cuter...

Having a new camera has made me snap-happy.  Suddenly everything my kids do is super-cute.  Usually Mason just dresses himself, but since he hasn't mastered the art of buttoning, he came out to the living room asking me for help.  I, being the helpful soul that I am, just started taking pictures.  (I did do the buttoning when it got that far)

Because everything is cuter through the lens of my new camera.

And it doesn't hurt that every time I sit down to try to figure out the settings on my camera, the kids jump all over me, asking me to take their picture.  And they really get into the posing thing.  My zany three-year-old will actually sit still so I can take his picture.
Wonder how long that will last.  And I wonder what's on his chin?

And Bree has to get in on the action.  She always has to do some funky pose.  Again, it's my fault for letting her watch America's Next Top Model over my shoulder...those gals do some pretty funky posing.  Maybe nothing quite like this though.

And this little stunt is definitely a nod to the episode where the models are in Morocco and have to balance tea trays with candles on their heads.

So although I cringe when she says, "I want to be a top model when I grow up," I have to admit that it's nice to have kids that love the camera.  It makes it so much easier to capture the cuteness that they radiate.

Dress-up lessons

I had nothing to do with what went on here.  I swear, Chad.  Bree was the instigator. 

I did, however, laugh when I saw this:
Mason's first instance of dress-up.  And his dress is on backwards to boot.  Unfortunately for my masculine and appropriately appalled husband, I kept laughing at Mason, which will undoubtedly ensure many more dress-up days in his future.

Bree, sporting the hat she designed for her dance recital:
I had found a nice hot pink hat for her to decorate with flowers, but she asked me if I could spray-paint it black, "You know, so it's more fashion-modely."  And I obliged, because I always have black spray paint on hand, which I use to prevent our wrought-iron fence from fading and/or rusting in our crazy Arizona weather.

Mason practices a bashful pose for the camera:
Bree does her impression of America's Next Top Model (she sneaks into the room while I'm watching that show...it's like a moth to a flame).
And Mason tries to copy her.

Perhaps deep down Mason knows how much what he's doing pains his father.  Or maybe he has some idea of how embarrassed he will be when he's 16 and these pictures resurface.

And he shows the proper amount of shame.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Life's Fun Little Surprises

When Chad asked if there was anything special that I wanted for Mother's Day this year, I told him I was ordering myself a couple of photography books so I could learn how to better document our growing family.  He said "So...does that mean you'll be wanting that new camera now?"  He knows me so well.  So yes, I ordered a new dSLR camera too.

I didn't think it had even shipped yet, so imagine my surprise when it arrived in the mail today!  I was just sitting down to play with my new Canon Rebel when Bree, upon noticing Lincoln's wet diaper (those Huggies Little Snugglers have that magic stripe that changes colors when the diaper is wet, much to my children's delight), retrieved a diaper, the wipes, and the Desitin, and started changing Lincoln's diaper before I even realized what was happening!

Aaagh!  A perfect, unplanned photo op!  I was literally sitting there with a camera in my hands, but I had no idea how to work it outside the patronizing "Green Box" (auto mode--seriously, I could not be caught dead using auto mode with this amazing camera)!  But I couldn't miss this opportunity.  I may not have figured out much on the camera, but what I did know was that I did not want an unnatural flash on, so I had it on "No Flash" mode (whatever else that means as far as settings go).  And I would have preferred not to have the toys from the play mat in my way, but the action was already going on, so I had no choice!  I snapped away, trying to capture the moment.  I was so happy with how easy it was to get nice shots in my poorly-lit living room, which has always been a problem with my point-and-shoot camera.

And Bree.  This girl amazes me every day by how grown-up she is.  She is such a big helper with her little brothers.  She has an impressive command of the English language.  And she can get her own snacks, which is awesome.  The other day she spread her own peanut butter and honey.  She requires minimal help from me, and can take care of Mason and Lincoln too, which means that I can now fully immerse myself in laziness.

Lincoln is going to grow up spoiled.  And by spoiled I mean surrounded by a ridiculous amount of love and attention from his whole family.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Meeting Lincoln

Chad's parents came for a visit to meet their newest grandchild.  We made a trip to Phoenix to the Bass Pro Shop and Costco, Fran organized a treasure hunt for Bree and Mason, and Jim went on a ride-along with Chad.  Thanks to Fran, we have some sweet photos to document the memories (I'm going to try to be better about taking photos now that I have a new camera!).

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Cake pops and related news

Last weekend Amy and I had an order to make a cake for a graduation party.  A huge two-tiered thing to feed 75 people.  Covered in fondant.  With tiger stripes.

I was in charge of baking the chocolate tier, and when the cake had cooled I trimmed off the domed tops to make the layers level.  So I had a big pile of scraps.  Delicious scraps.  So I ate a few handfuls, but still had a lot leftover.  And, as luck would have it, I also happened to have some leftover peanut butter frosting from some amazing peanut butter cup cupcakes I'd made.  And I thought, "Cake pops!"

I've seen cake pops everywhere in the blogosphere, but had never attempted them.  When you read the directions for making cake pops, they literally start with, "1) Bake a cake. 2) Frost cake. 3) Smash cake until it's mush."  Then the directions proceed to tell you to form the cake/frosting mush into balls, insert sucker sticks, freeze, then dip into some sort of coating and decorate.  Well, I feel that ruining a perfectly good cake just to make cake pops (which is a process that, depending on how elaborately the pops are decorated, can be a ridiculous amount of work) is a huge waste.  So I had written off cake pops.  As in, they were never going to happen.

That was before I found myself looking at a glorious pile of chocolate cake pieces that would probably go to waste.  So I mashed up some cake scraps with that peanut butter frosting, etc., etc.  And last night when we had some friends and their kids over, I pulled those frozen balls out of the freezer, dipped them in melted chocolate (leftover from more of those peanut butter cup cupcakes...which are amazing, by the way) and let the kids dip them in sprinkles or nuts.  And they were delicious.

And adorable.  I tried to snap a picture before Mason ate his.  "Wait, Mason!  Hang on a second!"

 "Hold it out for me!"

Forget this, Mom.

Oh, and that cake Amy and I made for the graduation party?  Yeah, it turned out awesome.  It was the first fondant-covered cake we've done.  Um, and the last.  The powdered sugar aftermath in Amy's kitchen was horrendous.

All in the name of cake.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dancing Queen

Broadway Baby
Hey Daddy!
Doesn't Chad make a gorgeous stage prop?

I'm so proud of my beautiful, talented dancer.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Mom, take a picture!"

Every once in a while Bree will ask me to take a picture.  Usually it's of something silly, like her toy lizards "hugging" each other, or her tongue when it's stained blue from a sucker.  And I'll groan and oblige her.

But then, every once in a while, I'll hear that request, and I'll see this:
 Then this (big brother doesn't want to be left out):
And I'm more than happy to oblige.
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