Friday, August 30, 2013

Happy Times

Not long ago, Daddy started a tradition in our household. Whenever it was time for the boys to have a snack, Daddy would place their food on one of our end tables, creating a sort of self-service bar. The idea was a hit! Jaden and Cody have easy access to their snack, and Mommy and Daddy don't have to worry about feeding them pieces one at a time. We use this "snack bar" all the time. In fact, now whenever the boys want a snack, they'll always go right to the table and point at it!

Recently, after sampling some Kix for the first time on their snack bar, Cody and Jaden both began moving their feet quickly and excitedly. They were sure happy about the snack!

This goofy fancy-footwork began showing up almost daily. Now, the boys can even do their silly dance on command. Daddy has lovingly nicknamed it their "Happy Feet."

With summer drawing to a close, we've been trying to fit in some of our last warm-weather outings. One of the places we were excited to visit was our new water park, the Oasis. This park has a special connection with our boys-- it's exactly as old as they are. The Oasis opened on the very same day our boys were born last summer. So, of course, this spot was a must-see for us!

We first spent some time in the big pool. The boys enjoyed holding on to Mommy and Daddy,

hanging onto the side,

and sitting on the ledge to kick and splash.

Jaden and Cody also enjoyed the toddler pool-- complete with fountains and a mini slide.

We may still be a bit young to enjoy the park to its fullest, but we enjoyed the excuse to spend some time outside together as a family.

Finally, we had the joy of capturing one of Cody and Jaden's happy playtimes on video this week. Typically, whenever they are doing something amusing and we take out the camera, the humorous interactions are over. This time, the boys' peek-a-boo game with one another continued. These are some of our favorite twin moments to witness. Enjoy!

Even if you are not playing peek-a-boo or dancing with your "happy feet," we pray that God grants you your own kind of happy times today in Him!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Visit to the Zoo

Last week we had the privilege of spending the day with our sweet 4-year-old god-daughter, Ella. We spent a good portion of the day visiting the zoo. It was Cody and Jaden's first time at the zoo.

Ella was so eager to see everything!

First, we saw some ducks...

...and then a few sea otters.

The boys especially liked this exhibit, as the viewing area was right at their level.

We even got to see the otter swim right past us.

It was a gorgeous day to be outside! Ella was so helpful at the zoo-- and often pushed the stroller for us from one exhibit to the next.

One of our favorite animals to see was the HUGE tiger. He wasn't really up for taking pictures, though. Taking a nap on the cool concrete sounded much better instead.

We also saw a couple of red pandas...

...and some bighorn sheep.

By the end, we all agreed that our favorite stop was seeing the bears. This was probably because the bears were so active and fun to watch.

Cody and Jaden loved the chance to stretch their legs a bit while they watched the bears wrestle in the water.

Of course, we all had to get a close-up view!

Thanks, Ella, for joining us on our zoo visit. We loved spending time with you and appreciated your help with our boys, too. What a wonderful little girl you are. We love you! :)

Friday, August 23, 2013

First Haircut

So we finally did it. We gave in. Jaden and Cody officially succumbed to the scissors for Haircut #1. At first, the little curls that both boys had at their collars were just plain cute. Lately, though, they were starting to look like little ragamuffins. The curls had to go.

Here is Cody's "before" picture.

And pre-cut Jaden:

So... after attempting to cut both Jaden and Cody's hair for the first time, I was SO thankful for their fine, slow-growing hair. Cutting hair on a wiggly toddler is quite a challenge! We have not been missing a single thing these past 14 months. :)

These next 2 pictures are definite posed shots. Despite our attempts to distract the boys with a video, their favorite toys, and even their beloved pacifiers, they were not at all happy to have Mommy using scissors behind their head! During the actual hair cutting, Daddy had to hold the boys in a near headlock while Mommy tried to cut somewhat evenly and fend off their flying hands.

Mommy was SO thankful that the boys only needed their hair cut in the back! Any suggestions from other more experienced Mommy haircutters out there would be most welcome! :)

In the end, though, we were happy to have done Haircut #1. Mommy & Daddy loved the more clean-cut look of their little boys, and (wouldn't you know it?) neither boy was harmed at all in the process. The tears dried up mighty quickly, and all was well with the world soon afterwards.

Here are our newly-groomed boys.

It may not have been the most even haircut or the smoothest experience, but, hey, we're done for another couple of months, at least! :)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

New Things

The title of this particular blog post, "New Things," likely sounds very generic and a little boring. Our home these days, however, is anything but boring! The following pictures showcase a variety of new toys, skills, habits, and happenings for our family. 

After returning from vacation in July, our boys were suddenly taller. One of the ways we noticed the boys' growth was seeing their new ability to dunk into their Little Tikes basketball hoop. 

You can see some of their shots in action below. You can also see how Cody typically claps for himself after making a shot. :)

Okay, not really. The hat actually belongs to Daddy, but Cody sure enjoyed the dress-up opportunity.

Mommy, Grammy, and Papa discovered this Cozy Coupe at a garage sale for only $15. It was clean and only gently used, so we were excited about the find. Both boys instantly loved their new car, and it has remained their favorite toy for the past 3 weeks!

After only one demonstration by Mommy, Cody was able to correctly enter the car one foot at a time, close the door, and honk the horn.

Jaden still prefers to enter the car backwards and peek out the rear window, but he sure loves to honk the horn!

Opening and closing the side door is always a hit, too.

Now the only question is how to manage the battles and tugs-of-war that inevitably arise because we have only one car. As much as we love the Cozy Coupe, it has spent more time closed up in a back bedroom than any other toy we own! Do we look for a second Cozy Coupe, or continue to use this toy as our model of "how to share"...? Oh, the joys of parenting two! :)

Another steal-of-a-deal garage sale find this summer was this wagon for only $10. Hooray! Jaden and Cody loved their first ride (probably especially because Daddy was able to join us).

Recently, Jaden and Cody had their first successful experience with crayons and coloring (successful because they focused more on the coloring than the crayon-eating!). Cody proudly shows off his new crayon.

Jaden, too, is excited to begin.

Both boys did well with holding onto the crayons and making some type of mark on their paper.

Perhaps our "coloring" looks a bit more like crayon crushing, but, hey, it's a start! :)

Mommy didn't save the pictures from Day 1 of coloring because she had demonstrated how to draw lines on the boys' paper. By the end, it was tough to distinguish Mommy's lines from the boys' markings. On our second day of coloring, however, the boys drew their own pictures independently. Here are their very first masterpieces. :)

During our recent warm weather days here in MT, we've laughed to discover the boys' newest favorite place-- sitting beside our air conditioning vent!

Sometimes they'll even sit right on top of it until their legs turn super cold!

 Often, the boys will just sit beside the vent and cool off their hands (as Cody demonstrates here) or put their faces in the cool air.

This past week our whole family took a trip to our State Fair. Cody and Jaden loved their first fair experience! Since it was a hot day, we all cooled off with an ice cream treat. This was quite likely the boys' favorite part of the fair.

We also spent quite a bit of time in the 4-H building looking at all the animals. We met Snow, the llama,

several goats,

and a bunch of sheep that loved to stick their head through their cages.

Cody demonstrates his first word, "shoes."

Jaden follows directions by pointing at a couple different parts of his body. So far, these are the only two he can get accurately on a consistent basis.

We are certainly proud of our boys and amazed at how many new things they continue to learn and absorb from the world around them.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sewing 101

For my birthday this summer, my parents' generous gift to me was a new sewing machine. I have never been much of a seamstress. Before this summer, I have only done a small handful of projects with a sewing machine. These projects always involved my mother's hands-on help from start to finish, including having her thread the machine, often measure & pin my fabric, and basically think through all the details.

Now that I have two active boys, my mom convinced me that becoming more of a seamstress might be a useful skill. Certainly knowing how to mend clothing would come in handy! The more I thought about it, I became excited about the various projects I could do. 

Since my mom would be visiting for over a week, we figured this would be an ideal time for Sewing 101. My mom, a very knowledgeable seamstress, was a very patient instructor. She helped me learn the ins and outs of my machine. 

Then, we started by practicing basic stitches. My machine (recommended to my mom by my artsy, talented sister-in-law, Sarah) is super user-friendly for beginners. Great suggestion, Sarah! 

 We then tackled a few smaller projects. I hemmed up our guest room curtains so that they no longer hung below the edge of our window ledge. This was gave me good practice in sewing straight hems.

My next two projects involved mending. I fixed up a torn bedskirt and even a rip in our front doormat. My heavy-duty machine accepted this thick doormat with no problem at all. Wow!

The main project of the week was making a valance for our master bedroom. I had found a pattern that I liked on Pinterest, and my mom helped me select a nice, thick fabric. Over the course of 3 nights, I cut, measured, ironed, pinned, and sewed. My mom guided me with advice and encouragement but let me do all the handiwork. One of the last steps was pinning and sewing tabs onto the back of the valance (to allow the fabric room to stick out in a ruffle-like pattern). Since I was on the home stretch, my mom did help with this step.

My dad installed the curtain rod.

And.... tah-dah!! The project was complete! I was so happy with the finished product and proud that I had done it independently on my own machine.

Thanks so much, Mom and Dad, for the practical, thoughtful gift. Mom, you were a great teacher! Thanks for your help and guidance.

Hopefully there will be more sewing projects to come! :)