Friday, September 26, 2014

Happy Fall!

Yesterday for 20 minutes we had 3 two-year old boys at our house and to minimize any possible chaos (which, let's admit it, would be primarily coming from Nikolai--he has a lot of energy, especially when friends are over!) I decided to enlist their help in entering our neighborhood's fall door decorating contest!

I traced some leaves on paper and then had them use fall colors to paint the leaves. I really love their creations!

I couldn't resist doing a little amateur painting myself (the colors of the fall leaves were just so intoxicating!):

While I traced the leaves the boys reaaaallly wanted to color, so I let them color with the same fall colored crayons I was using and, later, cut leaves out of the paper they had colored on. 

I think our door turned out pretty nice!

(Real talk: my real motivation in entering the contest is that every participant gets a special treat, and I am ALL about treats!)

Also, this activity definitely kept all 3 boys contained and I think they really enjoyed themselves! Win-win!

Thursday, September 25, 2014


The other day, Nikolai came up to me and declared, 

"Mama, I get bigger, I be...I be a cowboy, I...I ride a pony!" 

Then he found this pony at the park last week and climbed on, shouting at the top of his lungs,

"Cowboy! Woody! Jessie! Bullseye!" 

Our boy is a silly boy.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Same, mama!

said Nikolai when we put on our shoes to go to the park.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Since it's hard to get outside when I'm watching the little baby, we've been trying to do some interesting inside things (especially when we have friends over for a playdate).  Last week, I decided it was high time to introduce the little boys to science experiments! 

The first day, we squirted vinegar into baking soda (with food coloring!) and saw the awesome bubbles that erupted!

This week, we made goop from a cornstarch and water mixture. We made this a lot growing up because it's so fun to play with. It feels solid when we break off a chunk, but melts into a puddle when you set it back down. 

This wasn't quite as big of a hit as the baking soda and vinegar (how can you compete with fizzy bubbles?!) but it was fun.

Does anyone have any recommendations for fun science experiments to do with toddlers? I had a lot of fun doing these with the boys and would love to do more!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Life lately

School started for Jesse 3 weeks ago, and we've been pretty busy since then! I've been trying to get in a good groove with all of the things I've got on my plate this semester: being pregnant, teaching Sunday school, organizing morning out (our once a week mom's group), going to orchestra, running book club, and watching this sweet little boy two days a week:

He's the baby of one of Jesse's classmates (a good friend of ours) and lucky for me, he's the sweetest little baby ever, so he makes practicing having 2 kids pretty easy ;)  I'm getting better balancing having them both around and still making time for Nikolai to get outside and such. 

 In conclusion: we're keeping busy and getting better at balancing things!

Saturday, September 20, 2014


 Orchestra started up again last week, and I am loving it! There was a moment at this week's rehearsal when we were running through the second movement of Antonin Dvorak's New World Symphony, and the beauty of the music overwhelmed me and I almost wept! I honestly believe the melody there at the beginning is one of the most beautiful melodies I have ever heard. 

Ok, just give it a quick listen:

Amazing, right? Anyways, at that moment I was also overwhelmed at how much I LOVE being part of an orchestra, at getting to contribute something (however little) to that beautiful sound. 

So, needless to say, I'm really enjoying orchestra! 

Anyways, this weekend we're having a big fundraiser with local food vendors and a fun raffle. They asked orchestra members to donate baskets worth $25, and since we're poor lowly students, I decided to make some things to put in a basket! 

Here's what I came up with (by the way, blue and yellow are University of Michigan colors--I was hoping that would be a good way to make these gender neutral while still making them appealing):

And here they are, all wrapped up to go:

Here's hoping that the fundraiser goes well!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fixin' to fix stuff

Remember a million months ago when I fixed the car door? Well, I mentioned then that BOTH rear door handles were broken, but I could only fix one because the child lock was engaged on the other, making the door impossible to open from the inside or outside. For months and months after I figured out how to fix the door handles, we knew we wanted to fix the other door but were concerned how much we'd have to pay a locksmith to rip open the door and disengage that stupid child lock! 

Anyways, a few weeks ago I decided we should probably just get it fixed, but first I turned to the internet one last time to find out if there was any way that I could disengage the child lock myself. After some extensive googling, I found something I thought would work.  It was pretty simple, so I thought I'd give it a try--it couldn't hurt, right?

It involved removing the inner door handle, then reaching in to the bars inside the door that connect the door handles to the locking mechanism. I just pulled on the bar that led to the outer door handle, and VOILA! The door opened, and I was able to switch the child lock to its blissful OFF position. 

I'm not going to lie, I think I did a frenetic happy dance in the parking lot that day :)

So, once we had gotten that taken care of, I went ahead and ordered a new outer door handle, and got to fixing it as soon as it arrived!

Now, just so you can appreciate what I did, this time I took pictures of the process :)

Step 1 was actually pictured above: remove the inner door handle. 

Step two is to take off the panel covering the arm rest and to unscrew a few screws holding the inner door panel to the metal door frame. 

Step three is to unhook the electronic window switch so you can take off the door panel. 

Steps 4 and 5: remove the door panel, and peel back the weatherproof covering. 

Steps 6 and 7 are the tricky parts. You have to reach in and unscrew the bolts that hold the outer door handle on. The closest one is super easy, and comes off very quickly, but the second one is CRAZY far back and very hard to reach. 

The arrow in the picture below shows you where the second bolt is. 

Don't see it? Let's move in closer:

Ah! There it is! Yeah, that thing is ridiculously hard to get to.  I was using a socket wrench for most of the bolts, but this one is in such a weird position that the only thing I could use to get it out was a really small hand wrench. 

So as hard as that bolt is to get OUT, it is about 10x harder to get the bolt back IN.  It's in such a weird position that getting the bolt in and getting it threaded enough to work on it with the wrench required some insane hand contortion and many, many tries. 

BUT! Eventually, I got the bolt threaded and was able to tighten it up with the wrench! Once that bolt is in, I was basically done!All that was left was to put everything back: tape the weatherproof covering back in place, put the door panel back on, reattach the window switch and arm rest panel and finally, put the inner door handle back on.

And then, I shut the door, and opened it from the outside for the first time in almost a year, and let out a big whoop of joy!

Ladies and Gentleman, we have 4 fully functioning car doors again! HOORAY!