We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers. - I Thessalonians 1:2

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Getting In That Spooky Spirit

Cate has been working on getting in that spooky spirit in preparation for Halloween today. First, it was by wearing her Halloween outfit from Grandma and Poppy (Eric's parents).Nanny and Poppy (my parents) also sent her a bunch of Tootsie Rolls, Reeses Pieces, a Halloween Elmo book, some new puzzles, a coloring book, and a jack o'lantern flashlight that she'll use tonight for trick or treating.

Friday after school I snagged the last small foam pumpkin at Michael's (on clearance already which was even better) for Cate to paint.
I figured that with foam, we could spray a clear sealant on it and use this as a decoration year after year. Heck, painting a fake pumpkin may even become a tradition here now. We'll have quite the collection once Brennan can participate too. Here's Cate with the dry and sealed pumpkin. Don't worry, we carved a real pumpkin too. Finished pictures to come when I post about trick or treating (we hit the streets in just under 2 hours).
Yesterday was also Cate's first art class at The Spotted Goose. When I saw the advertisement for the art classes, I couldn't resist. What a fun way to spend some time together with Cate before Brennan's arrival. The class said ages 2-6 and for the most part, yesterday's craft could be done with only minimal parent assistance. I still think Cate struggled a little bit, but she seemed to like it and asked to go back. So I'll take that as a good sign. They made spiders out of styrofoam and pipe-cleaners, as well as a mini-pumpkin.
Here she is with the finished craft at home later on yesterday. I'm hoping to do a mommy and me art class at a local art studio this spring. It'll be good for us both to get out of the house and do something together while Daddy gets some male-bonding time with Brennan. While the classes are more expensive than the ones at The Spotted Goose, Cate already attended one last spring and it seemed to be a little more of an actual "art class" than just a craft time. Still, I'm not complaining. Cate loves any kind of art or craft project. While waiting for their crafts to dry, Cate also got to hear a story about Halloween.
(In black and white because the color was off and I just couldn't fix it). The Spotted Goose staff also had all of the kids model some new "monster hats" they just got in. Look for a much better picture to appear on The Spotted Goose's website or in their email newsletter (they asked us all if it was okay to put our kiddos in there).

I'd say we're definitely in the Halloween mood. All we have left to do is trick or treat!

Happy Halloween!

~Melody :-)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Love and Honor to Miami

Last Saturday it was homecoming at Miami, our alma mater. While we knew going to the actual football game was out of the question (uncomfortable for me, too long for Cate who would've had to miss nap time, and tickets that weren't exactly cheap), we still enjoyed spending the morning and part of the afternoon enjoying the festivities. We started out visiting some of our favorite places on campus. Here's Cate in front of the gate that leads down slant walk-- the entrance to campus from Uptown Oxford.
Our next stop was Mommy's old dormitory. I lived in Stoddard Hall my sophomore year. It's one of the oldest dorms on campus. The rooms were nicely furnished, for a dorm, and pretty spacious as well. I was lucky to live there (and to have a smart roommate as you had to apply to get into this dorm and she was the one who got in, bringing me with her-- we had roomed together freshman year too). This was the dorm I lived in when I met Eric. We spent many nights in that spring of 2002 chatting outside this dorm until late in the night.
A short walk from my old dorm, which was pretty much in the center of campus, we hit up the school seal. The legend at Miami goes that stepping on the seal means you'll fail your next exam. I never stepped on it there, even though I wouldn't call myself superstitious. And in all my time spent at Miami, I only rarely saw students walk across the seal. Good thing Cate's not in college because she stood right on it.
About 50 feet from the seal is the infamous Upham Arch. If you kiss someone under the arch at midnight, you're destined to marry. Eric and I shared a few kisses there, but I don't know if any of them were at midnight. Incidentally though, Miami does have an unusually high rate of graduates that marry one another-- they're called Miami Mergers. We're a Merger. And yes, it's true, we do get a Valentine's Day card from the Alumni Association every year as a result. Anyway...Saturday we snuck a few kisses under the arch with our favorite little girl.
By then it was time to head Uptown for the parade. We stopped by the Alumni Association booth where we got some free coffee mugs and a toasted roll. These. Are. Heavenly. They too are a Miami tradition, served in the student center dining hall (the dining hall catering service was kind enough to bring them Uptown and give them out to the alumni for free). Cate loved mooching off of our toasted rolls.
We also stopped in at the bookstore to get Cate some new Miami gear. She's had something for every size range since birth, so we had to get something in a 3T (I know, she is just plain tall). We chose a hooded sweatshirt that Brennan will be able to wear later on. Cate was full of Redhawk pride.
The parade began and Eric was excited to sing the Miami fight song along with the Glee Club, something he was a part of at Miami.
The band ended the parade. Cate loves a good marching band and thoroughly enjoyed their performance.
We ate at one of our favorite restaurants after the parade-- Bagel and Deli. There's no seating inside, but there is a big picnic table outside. And some steps for a next-door store that people sit on. Cate chatted up some of the dance team alum who happened to be sitting on the steps before turning her attention to the college boys that live in the apartment above Bagel and Deli and had their windows open, partying it up before the game. They had her cracking up. I thought it would've been weird to take out my camera and take pictures though.

We weren't even a block away from Bagel and Deli, heading back to the car, when Cate crashed. She remained out for the entire 1 hour car ride home. A tired and pregnant mama also fell asleep, leaving Eric to enjoy the solitude of the drive home-- part of which is spent on some pretty two-lane roads.
Oh Miami-- we do miss you, and Cate seems to love you, so I guess we'd better start putting more money away now since you are the most expensive state school in Ohio (but totally worth it too). We'd love to have a second generation at the school we both love.

~Melody :-)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wiggin' Out

Tomorrow is wig day at school as part of Red Ribbon Week (say no to drugs week). We've had a different theme for each day-- crazy socks, wear red, mix-up/mismatch day, you get the idea. Anyway, Eric always wears this wig for Team in Training events so that his participants can find him when he is out on a course as staff. I'm wearing it tomorrow for wig day. Cate had to try it on tonight just for fun. The fact that she was already wearing a green sweatshirt makes it even more hilarious. Hopefully she won't do anything this crazy in a permanent way when she's older...but of course if she does, we love and accept her for who she is.

~Melody :-)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Mini Cornhole

First of all, if you're not from the midwest, you may not know what Cornhole is...so you might want to read this. It explains Cornhole.

Anyway, any time we are at a party and Cornhole boards are present, Cate gravitates towards them. She loves to put the bean bags into the hole. Unfortunately, we don't have a set of Cornhole boards of our own. Fortunately, Cate's grandparents (Eric's mom and stepdad), recognized Cate's love of Cornhole and picked up a kids' size Cornhole set for her.
This little girl loves it!
She doesn't quite "get" Cornhole and can't quite toss the beanbags that far. But she enjoys standing right at the foot of the boards and trying to toss the beanbags in from there. Here's a little video of Cate "playing" Cornhole:

We've spent quite a bit of time out in the backyard playing this game already. Thankfully our basement has plenty of space for us to set these up down there this winter. Now Mommy and Daddy need to get their own grown-up sized set of boards and we'll be all set for some real backyard fun this spring.

Thanks again Grandma and Poppy for such a fun game!

~Melody :-)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fun Family Friday!

We don't have many more weeks left with Cate as our only child, so we're trying to savor each moment with our sweet girl. We've had some free bowling coupons for awhile now and decided that she was probably old enough to head to the bowling alley and give it a try. First, can I just say that while ugly on adults, toddler bowling shoes are adorable!
I'm pretty sure she loved tap-dancing on the shiny wood floor with those shoes just as much as she loved bowling itself. Cate was a little apprehensive at first, and thought the six pound ball was a little too heavy.
Each time she bowled, we moved a little wooden ramp to the top of her lane and then brought her her ball. She pushed it down the lane (which had bumpers) and clapped and cheered when it knocked pins over. She even picked up a couple of spares. In the end, she ended up LOVING it! Our lane "froze" halfway through our game and they had to move us one lane over. As compensation, they gave us three free games to come back again (and our 3 games we played tonight were free to begin with since Eric had some coupons).
We'll definitely be going back. And when this little bowling ball gets older...
...fun family Fridays at the bowling alley may have to be a once a month outing (FYI...for you non-Ohio people, you can't smoke in public places in Ohio so the bowling alleys, once smoke-filled places of entertainment, are much cleaner and kid-friendly).

In the end, our scores were Cate- 81, Mommy- 129, and Daddy- 82. Remember, we had bumpers. You can make fun of Eric later.
We ended our night at Frisch's Big Boy, where Mommy and Cate both enjoyed their hot fudge cake while Daddy enjoyed pumpkin pie.
It was literally a perfect evening for one of our last weeks of being a family of 3. I'll leave you with a little video of Cate showing off her bowling skills.

~Melody :-)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Another Night Off

Last weekend we got another night off as Eric's parents graciously agreed to keep Cate overnight again so that we could enjoy a baby "sprinkle" (we don't need a shower since we've pretty much got everything we need-- but every baby does deserve to be celebrated) thrown by our small group. To entertain her for the evening, they went to a local farm and pumpkin patch. From all the pictures they emailed to us afterward, it's clear that Cate had a really good time with her Grandma and Poppy in the fresh country air.
We also learned that Cate has surpassed the 3 foot mark. As Eric joked, she has less than 2.5 feet to go before she catches up with me.
There were some animals at the farm that Cate also enjoyed getting to see, like this rabbit: And even though she looks apprehensive in this picture, Cate really did like the barrel train ride. So while Cate got to have all this fun, I took a different pumpkin...
...over to our friends' home to be spoiled rotten. We really do have some amazingly generous friends. And Cate has some amazingly patient grandparents for keeping her two Saturday nights in a row. Thanks again!

~Melody :-)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

B is for...

...baby, Brennan, bottle, and blankie. That's what Cate has been telling us all week since this week's letter during her learning time with my friend was "B." I think Cate had a slight advantage with this one since she already knew that Brennan started with B. Next week she'll know Cate starts with C. We had a B and C mini-lesson when we hung the letters in the kids' room a few weeks ago. She had a little trouble doing a B by herself, but with some guidance she was able to trace one without much of a problem.
They also reviewed the letter A. The one in the bottom left-ish corner (where the red writing is), Cate did all by herself. I am one proud mama!
You might have also noticed that there seems to be some "fringe" on the pictures. Cate is also learning how to cut using safety scissors. She's also doing a much better job with her drawing-- connecting her lines to one another to form sort-of circles or ovals. It's the next progression past lines and is a step towards developing handwriting skills.
She also colored a wooden B, but I forgot to take a picture. I did remember to take a picture of this though:
As Cate has been telling us, b is for blankie. This is a blanket I'm knitting for Brennan. It would be just large enough to cover a newborn at this point, but I want to make it a little bigger. I guess you could say it's just slightly larger than a "lovey" (for those of you who know what those are). It's been a labor of love for sure. These are the skinniest needles I've ever knitted on, which means it takes FOREVER to do a row. And since the blanket kind of grows from the inside out, each side take progressively longer to do because the rows are longer. It's worth it though. And it will be even more worth it when my snuggly little boy is all wrapped up in.

~Melody :-)

PS... B is also for beautiful. As in the beautiful fall weather has returned (after a short relapse into summer temperatures in the mid-80s) and we couldn't be more excited to throw open the windows, play outside, and breathe in that fresh fall air.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Halloween Party

Last weekend, Cate got to spend Saturday night with Eric's parents so that Eric and I could have a much-needed date night. They were excited to have her as their friends that live on 17 acres were having a big Halloween party. We were excited to be able to have dinner out by ourselves and to see a movie (we saw Life as We Know It-- it was cute--a pretty typical romantic comedy).

Anyway, Cate was super-excited to tell us all about her adventures at the party when we arrived to pick her up on Sunday morning. First, there was the pumpkin pinata (thank you to Eric's stepdad for sending us the pictures).
By the time Cate got a turn, the stem had broken, so she had to hit it on the ground. She was excited for the candy to come out.

Next, they went on a hayride around the farm. They do a couple of different hayrides. For the younger kids, they do a fun hayride where the "monsters" on the ride come out, but the kids all yell "Boo" to make them go away. On the older kid/adult version, the "monsters" actually try to scare the riders.

Later, they listened to a Halloween story. Cate was intrigued...
...probably because at the end of it they lit a fire in a pumpkin.
She's been talking about the party and yelling "boo" to the "monsters" all week. When she learned about the letter "B" the other day with her babysitter (more on that later), she came home and told me "boo" started with B (along with Baby, Brennan, and Bottle).

Thanks Grandma and Poppy for a great weekend! Cate is excited to come back again this weekend. Yes, I know, we're lucky! This weekend our small group is throwing us a couples' baby sprinkle (as opposed to a full blown shower, which we don't need since we really don't need anything the second time around). So Cate gets to go back for a second weekend of fun. I think it might be hard to top that party though.

~Melody :-)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Disney on Ice

So, I got to take Cate on a Daddy Daughter Date last Thursday while mommy had conferences. I picked her up from the sitter and we went to the store to pick up dinner. We took our dinner down to the river, along the serpentine wall, and ate and watched the boats on the river. Then we walked down to the stadium, Cate donned this dress (thanks to one of our friends) ...

And we headed into the show. There were two things working to my advantage that night; 1) I've never been a really "macho" kind of guy, and 2) Disney does a darn good job with anything they do (the show was good for everyone, not just the young girls who are obsessed with the princesses).

From the moment we got in, Cate was enamored! She wouldn't even take her eyes off the stage to say cheese, which is a lot if you know her love of cameras.

We split a popcorn and stayed for the first half. Intermission wasn't even until 8:45, and we had a good 15 minute walk back to the car, so I figured it was time to head home. She seemed to enjoy herself though, and I got to relish in my first "club time" in a while. Let's just hope Daddy can keep the precedent of spending one on one time with the whole family!

- Papa E

Friday, October 8, 2010

More Fall Fun

Did you get the general gist in my last post that I LOVE fall?!? Just in case you didn't, here's another post about some fall fun. I'll start with some home decor (so Martha Stewart, I know). We bought some gourds at the farmer's market in NE Ohio last weekend as well as a couple of mini-pumpkins. Pop in a large, white Pottery Barn serving bowl and you've got an instant fall center piece for the dining room table.
And even though the light on this lamp-post hasn't worked since we moved in (we've tried to figure it out, but it continually baffles us), I did go ahead and decorate it with some corn.
Cate is obviously a lot more aware of the weather and seasonal changes than she's ever been before. So I bought a couple of books about Halloween. Okay, we already had Hallo-Wiener. I bought that one when I worked at a bookstore several years ago because I grew up with a wiener dog. I love that the dog in this book is named Oscar (as in Oscar Meyer wiener).
We also checked out a few Halloween library books.
And then, while shopping for a friend's daughter's birthday present at our local children's bookstore the other day, I stumbled upon this book:
Cate loves stickers and so far she loves this book. The pages actually take her awhile to do because there are so many stickers. Each one is a fun Halloween scene to decorate. So I figure we'll do one or two a day, when we have time, until the book is finished. We've already done the build-a-monster page:
And the Dr. Frankenstein's Lab page:
It's a Halloween hit with my sweet girl and I love the minutes...which have literally turned into almost an hour with Cate...that we've spent on each page, putting the stickers on (they don't have to go in any specific place) and chatting about what's happening in the picture. Maybe Usborne (the sticker book's publisher) makes a Christmas one?

~Melody :-)