Growing Out On A Limb

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Inside on a snowy day in February

Lately Oliver is easily occupied with one of two things:  play dough and coloring.  So in between all of the snowy outside fun on the weekend, that’s largely what we did!

I’m really impressed with Oliver’s coloring lately.  Instead of just scribbling over the entire page, he is focusing on smaller areas and doing a really good job at staying in between the lines.  We have some of those giant fold-out coloring pages (Cars, of course) and he will ask for the same one over and over until there is hardly a wait space left.

Then, on Saturday, Oliver started drawing circles.  Better-than-I-expected circles.  When I asked him what they were, he said “eyes”.  Then he drew a big smile.  I asked him about the nose and he added it.  Then I said, “Maybe you could add some legs”.  So he did.

And here is the result.

I don’t know if this is coming early or late, developmentally speaking, but I was pretty much blown away by that little drawing – like over-the-top and in-only-a-way-a-mother-can-understand proud.  Not only is he managing the marker really well, this was the first time he’s drawn something on his own (or at least something that isn’t hiding in a mess of scribbles and that only he can see).

Oh, the small things it takes for a mother to be impressed.  I just love seeing them learn these little things.

Then we have Emery who isn’t using markers yet and who I thought was also too little for play dough, for the simple reason that it would likely end up in his mouth.  But he sat at the table and poked things in and out of this bucket of play dough for an hour or so.  An hour!  So I was pretty impressed by him too.  I think he was mostly quite happy to be playing at the table with Oliver.

And he only tasted it a couple of times.  Yuck … salty!  (Also notice how my four colors of homemade play dough are now one big mountain of grey).

This pic really has nothing to do with Saturday.  I just found it on my camera.  What a goof.

Happy Tuesday!


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A Snowy Day in February

This is my counter to all of the beachy Caribbean pictures I’m seeing on facebook lately. 

We got about a foot of snow Friday night and had a really lovely mild sunny day on Saturday, which we largely spent outside. 

Emery watched Daddy and Oliver play in the morning. 

Can I go outside too, Mommy? 

And of course we did.  Emery loves being outside as much as his big brother! 

The snow was perfect for building a snowman.  Oliver named this one Sno-Mahn. 

Fist bump, Sno-Mahn! 

The tractor left really high snowbanks that were really perfect for making a slide.  Both of the boys loved it! 


Emery sat at the top of the hill and learned how to get himself going. 

Then daddy made a little snow house. 

Mommy found a snow seat and is taking a little break. 

I still may be unreasonably jealous of pictures of sand and sun at times but a day outside in the snow like this one make me happy to be right where I am!

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Oliver’s Mater Cake

Every time I asked Oliver what he wanted on his birthday cake, the answer changed… Mater, Cars, trucks, airplanes.  I had to land on something and Mater was the most common response so a Mater cake it would be!

I originally planned to do a fondant-covered cake like I usually do but I wasn’t sure I would have the time to actually  make Mater out of fondant.  Not to mention that I wasn’t at all sure that I would be able to do it well.

Then I remembered frozen buttercream transfers, which I’ve been wanting to try for a while anyway.  It’s a great method for creating images and is much easier than direct piping, which I am really not good at yet.

There are tons of great tutorials out there but here it is in a nutshell:  Print your image in reverse (i.e. mirror image).  Tape it to a flat surface.  Lay a piece of wax paper over it and tape that down as well.  Using dark buttercream, pipe the outline of the image.  Then use your other colors of buttercream to fill in the image, keeping in mind that you are going to flip this over when you are done so the colors you pipe on first will be on top.  Pop it in the freezer for at least 90 minutes (or overnight) and then flip it onto your cake before the party.

This was a marble cake with chocolate buttercream filling and peanut butter buttercream on top.  It was like eating a big peanut butter cup… yum!!  (Note to self:  I’m not sure peanut butter buttercream was the best choice for the transfer since it has a slightly greasy consistency compared to regular buttercream … either that or I should have thinned it more because you shouldn’t see the individual piped lines of icing in the transfer… but it looked ok in the end).

And Oliver says he liked it and that’s the most important thing of all!

Here’s a closeup of the transfer.  Can you see the fingerprints on Mater in this shot?  My goodness, Oliver is quick!

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Oliver turns 3!

Dear Oliver,

On Saturday we celebrated your third birthday.  Your THIRD!

It seems impossible that it’s been three years since you made our twosome a family of three.

Here are a few things about you as you turn three…

  • You are a great sleeper but an early riser:  5 or 5:30 am!
  • Play dough and coloring are your go-to past times when you are bored of your toys.  You are getting much better with the crayons lately – less scribbling and more focused coloring.
  • You have a crazy strong will (that sometimes gets you in trouble).
  • You love to sing – I often catch you humming while you are playing with your trucks.
  • You mix up anything and nothing, as in, “Mommy, I have some news for you”.  “What is it, honey?”.  “Anything”.  Or “Oliver, what did you have for lunch today?”.  “Anything!”.
  • You are usually an extrovert but become really shy when attention is on you, like when singing happy birthday to you.
  • You seem genuinely pleased that Emery plays more like you all the time.  Mommy loves to see you play nicely with your brother.
  • You are getting better at sharing but it’s still hard sometimes.
  • You are really good at wearing your glasses and the eye doctor tells us your eyes are responding really well to them.
  • Your creativity comes out more all the time, like when you break little pieces of play dough off and stack them up to build dinosaurs.

You are smart and funny and full of spirit and rarely slow down.  You are a source of laughter, frustration, pride, awe, and unconditional love…  and that’s all before breakfast some days!  Every day we are reminded of how fortunate we are to have you in our lives, even if it is sometimes in all of your crazy toddler glory.

You were so excited for your birthday this year and mentioned balloons and cake and ice cream for weeks leading up to  it.

Every time I asked you what you wanted on your cake, you had a different answer.  Mater was the most common though, so that’s what we went with.  

You really liked blowing out the candles and were even nice enough to let your friend Hannah have a turn!

I think you opened your presents in 15 seconds flat, running from one to the next.

Papas are good at putting together new toys.  

Of course you will share your new toys with Emery, even if it is reluctantly sometimes.

We were so happy to have Colleen, Bradley, Hannah, and baby Hayden join us.

Emery practiced his stacking with aunt ali.

You were so played out at bedtime.  You told me you had a really fun birthday, which of course made me really happy.  And it made the time and effort (and the 1 am bedtime the night before) totally worth it.

You are my sunshine!



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Valentine’s Day!

I’ve never really cared much for Valentine’s day but I have to admit it was kind of fun to do Valentines to send with Oliver and Emery this year.  Last year Oliver came home with a fistful of Valentines and hadn’t taken any… not that he cared but I told myself that would not happen again!

I know I could have just bought a box of cards at the grocery store and thrown their names on them but it’s so easy (and fun!) to find and print out something less commercial and more personal.  I take no issue with store-bought valentines and imagine there will be a day that the boys insist on Cars/Transformers/the-latest-disney-character cards but for now I’m going to enjoy finding the ones that seem just right for them.

Oliver took this one.  I thought the little boy looked like him and he loves anything with wheels, of course.  He thought they were pretty cute.

I really love those super cheesy vintage valentines (like these ones) so I originally planned on one of those for Emery’s cards.  But then I came across this really cute site and these valentines and they were so stinking cute I stopped looking.  I love the design and they’re so well illustrated (click through to the illustrators site … good stuff).

I couldn’t decide on one so I just printed both.  And I think the suckers are such a cute touch.

 Nana and Papa are vacationing but sent us Valentines in the mail.

Oliver was pretty tickled to get a valentine (and I was too).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Homemade Play Dough

I think I’ve mentioned in earlier posts that Oliver is really taken by play dough lately.

He loves to get out his “tools” so he can make different tracks or manipulate it in a different way.  He often says, “Mommy, I need a different tool!” so I’ll go digging through the drawers to find something new… cookie cutters, a fork, tongs … whatever he can easily handle and lets him play in a slightly different way.

But – and I’m pretty sure this is not just us – commercial play doh dries out quickly!  He might get four or five uses out of it before it is not as soft and hard for him to work with.  Adding a few drops of water helps but it never returns to the same consistency again.

So I decided to try my own.  I googled ‘best play dough recipe’ and came to this one.  My first reaction was that having to cook it on the stove was more work than I wanted to put into it (must have been having a lazy moment) but it was well worth it.  It only takes a few minutes, a few ingredients, a bit of coloring and you have play dough that is a really great consistency and will apparently last for a long time (we’ll comment on that down the road)!

So far I’m impressed with it and Oliver has no complaints!


3 cups flour

1 cup salt  (I reduced this based on a reader’s comment and it turned out fine)

3 cups water

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 Tbsp cream of tartar

Food coloring for color.



Mix all ingredients (except food coloring) in a large saucepan.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan and gets too thick to stir.  You’ll know.

Remove from heat and let cool until you can handle it.  Place on counter, add food coloring, and knead until smooth.

Store in an air-tight container.

Oliver’s figuring out the tongs here.

Here he’s using a ravioli cutter – it makes a neat wavy track.  

And this is a dinosaur!  Rawr!  



This past weekend was a mix of birthday (mine) and Superbowl.  I love it when the two coincide.  Not only do we have an excuse to eat yummy munchies during the game (okay, so we eat yummy munchies allllll day long), we get to add birthday cake on top of it!

We mostly hung out at home on Saturday, although we did go watch daddy curl for a bit at the local Curl for Cancer.  We also got to hear some good music there.  Oliver was really taken by the drums.

But here we are earlier in the day, at lunchtime.  Oliver is helping Emery with his banana.

Banana-faced cutie!

I’m never sure what face I’m going to get for the camera these days but this mama thinks this one is pretty handsome!

Proud to be a big helper!

Later in the day Oliver helped daddy make a birthday cake for mommy… it was delicious!

On Sunday we hung out at Nana and Papa’s to watch the big game.  We spent lots of time outside in the afternoon – rides on the snowmobile, making snow angels, and jumping into the snow piles.

Mid-jump!  In case you’re wondering, his face says, “FUN!”

 Daddy helped to make some jumps BIGGER…

… and some giggles BIGGER.

Papa and Oliver even practiced their synchronized drift-jumps.

Sometimes life is like that:

Later we had lots of time for building towers of the lego variety…

… and the domino variety.  We were all amazed at his steady hand – daddy helped build it but he kept sliding dominoes into the middle, top, and bottom without the tower falling over.

While big brother was building, Emery was having fun with this little basketball.

It’s the first time he has cared to roll it back and forth to someone.  He giggled like mad when he “caught” it.

What a great weekend … I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate my birthday!