Sunday, March 30, 2014
Saturday, March 29, 2014
We have a little patch of forest behind our apartment in which live all sorts of awesome critters. There's tons of squirrels, which Niko loves (though he calls them "Meow" so he might think they're cats?). They're pretty brave creatures, in part, I think, because a lot of our neighbors feed them! So they frequently come up to our window begging for food, holding their little arms up against their chest as they stand and tell us how cute and hungry they are.
We didn't feed them (though I'll admit I was tempted! They're so cute!) but this particular squirrel stayed there for probably 10 minutes, hoping we'd give in to his cuteness.
Brazen little critter!
Friday, March 28, 2014
Sometimes the eternal Michigan winter gets me blue, and sometimes that blue is hard to shake. Sometimes, though, I listen to songs from Mideau's way with words EP (my favorite: here) on repeat and my mood lifts.
And sometimes, we dance to it!
(yes, I am a goofy dancer. No, I have no shame)
So I don't always cook dinner, because often by 4:30 I'm totally burned out and just want to sit on the couch, but sometimes, it does happen!
Recently, we got our tires replaced, and while I was sitting in the waiting area I read a magazine that had this AWESOME pizza recipe in it. I snapped a picture of the recipe and came home and made it the next week:
It's a homemade pizza crust topped with fresh mozzarella and baked, then topped with arugula, a fresh lemon vinaigrette, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper. It was actually supposed to have dollops of ricotta cheese on it (!!!!) but I actually forgot! However, this pizza was SO good that we'll definitely make it again, and definitely put the ricotta on next time :)
Last week was my first experience using cheesecloth for something other than a craft project! I made Palak Paneer, a spinach curry with squares of a cottage-cheese sort of cheese that I made myself! I forgot to take pictures of the actual cheese, but here's my cheesecloth covered bowl all prepped and ready for receiving the curds and whey:
The paneer turned out alright (though I think I'll use full-fat milk next time) but I think I overcooked it--but the good news is that the curry was so good that we'll definitely want to try it again!
Last week, we had a little potluck brunch for our church playgroup and I decided to make this doughnut recipe that I've been wanting to make for some time (recipe: here)
They're baked banana doughnuts and they were really yummy! It was a fun excuse to bake doughnuts and taking them to the brunch meant I wasn't tempted to eat them all myself ;)
I've had some other baking exploits lately (most notably a knock off BYU mint brownies recipe that is DELICIOUS) but no photos, sorry! I really like cooking and baking (though I don't always have energy for the former--I ALWAYS have energy to bake!) and I really get a sense of fulfillment out of making something delicious.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Last week we had some of Niko's friends over (and their awesome moms!) for a playdate. The boys had fun playing together for awhile (though Niko had a hard time sharing sometimes--we need to work on that!!!) and then we decided to paint!
I've found I like watercolors better than fingerpaints--probably because there's a little less mess (even if Niko does like to use his fingers to watercolor sometimes) and what mess there is is totally water-soluble! The boys had fun and we tried to decide if modern art is truly so easy that "a two year old could do it."
Thanks for a fun playdate, friends! We love you so!
Nikolai has been doing a lot of learning lately, and I wanted to share!
First of all, he's learning to count. With help, he'll count all the way to fifteen. Usually the exchange goes like this:
Me: Seven, Eight, Nine
He even went to the fridge the other day and brought me a full carton of eggs (!!!!!) because he wanted to count them (we count them at the store sometimes when I'm checking the carton for cracked eggs).
He's learning letters and can spot some of his favorite (A, B, H, O, N, E) though he doesn't know them all yet. The other day he was coloring and wanted us to draw some letters, so we had him name them and we wrote down letters as he thought of them:
8 letters, and only one repeat! We were very proud.
He's also learning to put together puzzles! For his birthday, Grandma Cheryl got him this wooden Thomas puzzle. Usually we do it together but the other day I turned around from doing some project to see he had gotten 3/4 of it done all by himself (the top is the hardest for him because it's just background scenery, no train parts or faces). Good job, Niko!
He's also learning to sort things. Recently he was playing with the magnets on the fridge, and when he was done I found he had lined up the squares, which are all the same size and shape:
Last night he was playing with some cards that have lollipops with faces on them for the face cards. He pointed at them saying "Mama! Dada! Baby!" (his typical response to seeing anthropomorphised lollipops) and then quietly sorted them.
Look at how well he did!
I guess I'm so astounded by his sorting abilities because that's not something we've practiced together. We count, and look at letters, but we've never sorted objects, so I'm excited to see that he's picked it up himself! (and thinking I should come up with some fun games for him to learn more sorting).
Good learning, Niko!
Niko has been 2 for several months now, but it wasn't until recently that I realized we have officially reached the Terrible Twos.
Screaming in the bathtub because...I don't even remember why anymore!
But I think it's important to point out that the terrible Twos are also the Terrific Twos. I mean, while there certainly is a lot of this:
Screaming because he wanted more "CAAAKE!!!" and I didn't want him to have more.
and we've had our fair share of tantrums pitched anytime we're leaving anyplace fun (any idea how to deal with those, friends? I'm at a loss!), there is also more than our fair share of this sweetness:
along with wonderful, amazing silly moments:
Nikolai found this piece of felt (leftover from making sunshine onesies) and put it to his mouth, then said "Cheese! Cheese!" so I would take his picture!
And there's other sweet times, like when Niko started telling us a story at the dinner table.
Niko: "And George (curious george)....walk...(here he walked his fingers around his plate)...animal....five! (now he wanted a high five) ...bir-day (birthday)....dada, happy!... mama, happy!... baby, happy!!!!" At this point he pointed at each of us and himself, smiling. (I will admit, I think "happy" is my favorite word he's learned so far!)
Other times, we're playing his violin and he starts dancing this great little jig, and later looks me straight in the face and says "FUN!"
He doesn't communicate in a lot of full sentences still (though we get the occasional "I got Percy!" "I got Mama!" [followed by a hug for me!]) but when he does use words, he's showing lots of creativity, humor, and memory skills that I never anticipated him having at such a young age. And while some of his communication stresses me out ("nooooo!!!!!!!!"), a good deal of it just fills me with so much joy ("hug!").
So welcome, Terrible and Terrific Twos. We're glad you're here.
Saturday, March 15, 2014
Friday, March 14, 2014
In researching for our trip, I found out that there's a butterfly conservatory in Niagara Falls. I thought Nikolai would like it and online reviews made it sound good, so we decided to go for it (all the while hoping it wasn't just a tourist trap).
It was not a trap, guys. It was AMAZING.
My pictures do not really capture it, but this place is full of about 2,000 butterflies and they're constantly fluttering through the trees and across your path. It was incredibly magical! So, I've taken about a million pictures in attempt to try and capture that magic, and while I'm not sure I was able to fully do that, I'm going to dump about half of them on you all the same. There's a LOT of pictures so I'll dial back the writing so you can feel free to mostly just scroll through.
The butterflies above were some of my favorites--they look like they have eyes when they close their wings, but when they open them, they're gorgeous and blue inside like the one below!
Can you spot 5 butterflies in this picture? (hint: two of them are blurry and in the background)
Below: Niko looks at a poison dart frog.
Niko looks at a butterfly resting on the ground:
Through a window, they had all of these butterflies emerging from their cocoons. It was so cool! Side note: Did you know that butterflies come out of their cocoons with small wings and a large body, and they slowly siphon the moisture from their body to out to make their wings grow? Then they hang there, upside down, for a few days while their wings dry. So neat!
You can't tell from the photo, but the moth below was MASSIVE--like the size of my two hands stretched out side by side. HUGE.
Nikolai was totally astounded by the butterflies and kept running around shouting "Fly! Fly" every time he was one (which, given the number of butterflies in the place, was really often ;D)
It's hard to tell, but these butterflies were flying all around us. I've tried to capture that in some of these photos but the butterflies are too fast! So, if you see a colorful blur like the one below, just assume it's a butterfly.
Niko pointing excitedly at a "fly":
Is he singing opera or orating? Either way, it was really cute (honestly, by the way he's holding his fingers I think he was counting!)
Can you tell there were 4 butterflies around Niko in this picture?
There was also tons of gorgeous foliage in this conservatory:
This peacock butterfly was one of my favorites:
Niko spent most of the time running around excitedly, like this:
Do you see all the orange butterflies in the bushes?
One landed on Niko's arm, and another landed on Jesse's back!
Then we wanted to pose for some pictures, and instead of smiling Niko just winked:
In both pictures!
There are three butterflies in this picture!
I told Niko the butterfly below was sleeping (primarily because I didn't want him to touch it) and he responded by pretend snoring.
It's hard to tell in the photo below, byt there are like 4 blue butterflies off to my left!
Niko and I loved stopping to look at any butterflies that would stay still for a moment:
You guys, if you're ever in Niagara Falls, you must go to the butterfly conservatory! The Falls still stole our hearts, but the butterfly conservatory was a close second. It was so lovely and Nikolai still talks about butterflies a week later! So if you're ever in the area, be sure to stop in--you won't regret it.
And that ends our Niagara falls adventure! It was a whirlwind trip with some sickness (but id it really a family roadtrip if no one pukes? don't answer that) and long drives but ultimately it was a great trip!