Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Farm Fest

We live in a land of festivals! This weekend we took a trip to nearby Hitscherhof to enjoy the Farm Fest. Pumpkins, hay and corn capture the spirit of the festival .... we enjoyed a bowl of spicy pumpkin soup, Kelty guided us through the corn maze and we all played on the hay playground (I'm still finding hay in our clothes and shoes ... reminds me of my childhood)! Unfortunately our camera battery died and I have only a few pictures to share .... grrrr.

Taking a pause in the corn maze to check out an ear of corn ... at one point Kelty was running through the corn maze with his arms full of corn. He was so stinking cute!

We let Kelty quide us through AND out of the maze ... clever little guy. Every little intersection we came to Kelty would point in the direction he wanted us to go. I'm glad he has Al's sense of direction because I can get lost in a mall.

Ok, yeah ... that's a HUGE pumpkin!

Big pumpkin make great drums.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Come and Play"

The Sesame Street USO Tour came to Ramstein Wednesday! Our tickets were for the afternoon show so we were able to include daddy in the action! Kelty was ready and geared-up with the "Elmo hands" that Nana and Papa sent him a few weeks ago. The show was about a 1/2 hour long, the perfect length for little ones and of course it was full of singing and dancing. Once Kelty got over the initial shock of the life-sized Elmo and Cookie Monster (his favorites) he stood up and clapped and danced along. He had that open mouth, wide-eyed look the entire time show ... it was pretty darn cute!

Unfortunately I didn't get any really good pics ... we were sitting really close to eachother on the mat in front of the performance area ... which did not lend itself to good photo ops but it was a great close-up fun! Here's what I was able to get ...

Waiting outside to enter the hangar for the show .... Kelty was obviously not too fond of the life-size poster. He warmed up a little later and went back to see the Cookie Monster and Elmo.

Clapping along with Elmo ... and safe in Daddy's lap.

We were sitting on the floor at the front of the mat .. here is a little action shot of Elmo and Rosita. The performance theme is dealing with a mommy/daddy that have to "go away" ... it's tailored to help children cope with a mommy or daddy that have to deploy in the military. Thanks USO and Sesame Street for bringing this performance to us!

On a side note ... this was a different perspective for me! For a long time I've been on the "other side" performing ... so being on the receiving end was a little heartwrenching. I felt that "hey! look over at my child" feeling that so many parents feel when they want to create a special moment for their child. I can't wait to get back to Disney and perform next year (I have to in order to keep my "seasonal" status and show approvals).

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's Too Soon for Backpacks and Lunchboxes

I thought this day wouldn't come for another 3 years; but this is just another reminder that time is fleeting. I go back to my part-time military career and Kelty starts "school/daycare" in October ... sigh .... tear ... sniff ... waaa!

I start pulling Reserve duty again in October and because I am now assigned to an active duty unit whose work week is M-F, that means my duty falls during the week as well. Fortunately my schedule is what I make it (as long as I work the required number of days per year). Unfortunately since I haven't pulled duty since Jan ... I am WAY behind and will have to work at least 2-days per week through December in order to meet my commitment. That meant I had to find childcare outside the home. Can I just say what an emotional and fearful step this is for me ... the thought of leaving Kelty in someone else's care terrifies me.

We did our research; the CDC on-base has a waiting list of several HUNDRED children ... the Montessori school does not take children under 3 ... German Kindergarten starts at 3 ... I quickly ruled out FCC (family childcare provider who runs day-care out of their home - NO WAY - one women watching 5+ kids on her own all-day does not seem safe to me; besides the fact she would not provide references seemed to be a red-flag) ... that left us with one very good option ... a children's academy. We visited the academy today, met with some of the staff, reviewed schedules, etc. and we are very happy with what they will be offering Kelty. Another perk is that we were able to get him into the part-time program ... 2-days a week. I guess that's not so bad! I'm still a SAHM 5-days a week. :o)

This means in a few short weeks I will be dropping Kelty off with his backpack and lunchbox. His drink and snack cups clearly labeled and a change of clothes in his backpack. I've already ordered the personalized labels for all his gear now we'll be on a search for a backpack and lunchbox ... daddy wants to get Kelty "Cars" themed gear ... I on the other hand wanted to "craft" a personalized lunchbox for Kelty ... I think I'll let Daddy win on this one.

In other news ... the base hosted its Annual International Bazaar this weekend. Hundreds of vendors from around Europe brought their goods. Al watched Kelty while my friend Chrissy and I did some shopping. I bought some awesome wine, one of which is gluwhine ... which you drink warm. I also bought some AMAZING German chocolate and cheese from Holland. Can't wait to share some of it with visitors! If you want some of the chocolate you might want to fly over now because I don't think it will last. Also bought some COOL gifts ... yup, can't talk about those!

Our nature walk on Sunday

We let Kelty drive his 4-wheeler and collect nuts along the way to feed the deer. You can imagine how slow of a walk this was ... every nut he saw on the grounds warranted a stop.

I made homemade play-doh on Friday (go read about it under my Tot! link). At one point Kelty kept making this face and I asked "what are you doing?" ... he pointed to the play-doh face he made. I was so busy building my own play-doh creation that I didn't even realize what he made ... he did the entire play-doh face himself ... including the circle!

Kelty's little play-doh face ... my little Picasso? LOL!

Kelty climbs up into his carseat by himself now ... the other day he decided he was too big for his carseat and climbed into the other seat ... with his ball. Silly boy!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Time for Homemade Play-doh!

In an attempt to encourage "quiet" play time, I decided to make homemade play-doh for Kelty. If you consider the end result of driving the play-doh around in the trunk of toy car and rolling balls of play-doh across the floor "quiet" play time, then it was a success. In Kelty's defense, he did sit at his table and play with it for about 5-minutes before finding other uses for this wonderful little substance.

I decided to make Kool-Aid Play-Doh, based off the recommendation of another mom I came across in the store. Let me tell you of this encounter .... Cream of Tarter (don't cheat and peak at the picture below), I have NEVER used Cream of Tarter for anything and to be honest I had NO clue where it was in the grocery store ... was it a liquid, a powder, in a bottle? I decided to scour the condiment (surely it's not Tartar Sauce, right?) and baking isles ... no luck. Apparently the look on my face caught the face of another mom and she said "it can't be that difficult" ... I responded with "cream of tarter, what the heck is it" ... she laughed and showed me where it was in the SPICE section (sure, whatever!). She immediately said "you're making play-doh aren't you" ... I responded with a proud "yes".

It will take you longer to read this post than it will to make the play-doh, seriously ... it's that quick and easy! It took me about 5 minutes from start to finish ... including digging the ingredients out of the cupboard.

Ingredients for Kool-Aid Playdoh

1 cup Flour
1 package Kool-Aid
1/4 cup Salt
2 tablespoon Cream of Tarter

1 cup Water
1 tablespoon Veg. Oil

Mix dry ingredients in saucepan, add liquid ingredients and mix well. Stir continuously over medium heat until ball forms, remove from pan and kneed until smooth. Store in air-tight container. Voila! (and it smells good too!)

Tip: I used a stiff silicon spatula to stir, continuously scraping from the bottom and folding the mixture into itself ... I was left with no mess or residue in my stainless steel saucepan.

The ingredients and the final product ... my first batch was blue.

Cookie Cutters and Play-Doh

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Me Me Me Meeeeeeeeee!

We've made some great progress with Kelty's speech this week! Last week we added long vowel sounds "e", "i", "o" to the previous "ba", "da", "pa", "ma" and "mmm" sounds in Kelty's repertoire. Our attempt was to isolate the long e, i, o vowel sounds and not combine them with consonants. We really struggled this week, Kelty really struggles with vowels and usually cries in frustration. Then suddenly the other day I walked down to the movie room to get Al and Kelty for dinner (they were watching Cars) ... I walked in the room, told them dinner was ready and then went to leave ... suddenly Kelty blurted out a crystal clear and sharp "ma, ma" ... I turned around in shock and then Kelty said "bye, bye"! Kelty has never made the "i" sound for a specific word before ... let alone make a real word out of it and in the right context! Al and I literally cried with excitement!

Then ... during our Speech Pathology appointment we were working with Kelty to use "me" instead of "mmm". We do activities like "who wants the toy", etc. in an effort for him to use "me" ... usually he would make his eyes big, tilt back his head and go "mmmmm". We kept working and working and then it came ... with BIG eyes and very loudly he yells "MEEEE"! I think everyone in the hospital could hear us cheer for Kelty. I wish we had it on video because it was the cutest and most amazing moment.

In other news ... we had a Skype playdate with our friends back in Tampa! It was wonderful to see our mom and kiddo friends in-action! Thanks ladies for a great time on Skype!

Michelle and baby Connor, Shayne (looking at Connor) and Jake! You can see Kelty and I on the computer screen. I stole this photo from Megan ... thanks Megan!

This turned into a big week for us. After 9-weeks of waiting, the playset we ordered Kelty finally arrived ... just in time for cold weather! O'well. Al and I assembled it Wed after Kelty went to bed and then I kept it out of sight from Kelty until Al arrived home Thurs night! We're done with the backyard until Spring now. Hopefully his outdoor play area will help burn-off some of his energy every day.

He didn't waste a second exploring (or climbing). We chose this playset because Kelty loves to climb and slide ... there are a few different climbing options for him with this particular set.

I even raked his sandbox the night before so it was "fresh". Thanks Mimi and Papa for some of the sand toys!

Climbing up the rope ... this is the first thing he did and he ended up doing it by himself the first time. We thought for sure it would take him a while to do this one ... apparently not!

Looking through the telescope with Daddy ... he prefers to use it as a trumpet for now though. Ha!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Time for Wine ...

Once again our German neighbors have shared a bit of Germany with us, the local way. On Sunday (I know, that was 3 days ago!) they took us to the vineyards in St. Martin. It's harvesting season in the Pfalz wine region and they wanted to take us to "the most beautiful vineyards" in the area ... one more reason why we LOVE this place! After the hour-long car ride we parked in a little parking area off the side of the road and started our hike into the depths of the vineyards ... we didn't even know you were allowed to do this! This particular vineyard had the row-ends marked with the type of grape they were growing ... that way we knew what grapes we were sampling ... I mean that way we could read information about the type of grape that was growing. I never imagined there would be such a difference in the flavor of grapes ... before "getting into" wine a few years ago I knew there were red grapes and green grapes ... and ummm ... they go through a fermentation process and you get wine.

About 1 1/2 miles into the walk we stopped at a small stand and enjoyed some "new wine". While enjoying our "new wine" our neighbors brought over a piece of bread with some sort of white spread, onions and salt. Hmmm ... they told us this is a normal dish to eat with your "new wine". This yummy little slice of bread happened to be layered with pork fat, onions and salt. The layer of pork fat was about as heavy as you'd put peanut butter on a sandwhich ... and it was really good! I turned off the calorie counter in my head and just enjoyed this bit of German cuisine.

After our stop we walked back through the vineyards and into the town ... which was BEAUTIFUL! We ate a quick lunch (that's the only way we can do it with Kelty), stopped off at a winery and then headed home. It was an AWESOME AWESOME day that Al and I both wish we could have shared with friends and family.

A look across the vineyards

Ooh, grapes!

This one looks good ...


Al's turn ...

My turn!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

All About Kelty

As if this blog wasn't really about Kelty normally, I thought I'd share with you a few of the things he loves "so much" and "not so much" ...

So Much!

Blueberries, Tangerines, Raisins (new), Yogurt, Graham Crackers, Peanut Butter, MILK, Spaghetti, Chocolate (ok, sometimes I share my Hershey bar with him!), Chicken Nuggets, Salami, French Fries, Nectarines, Peas, Ice Cream, Cheerios, Goldfish Crackers, Bananas

Trains, Cars, Trucks, Tractors, Airplanes, Balloons, Bubbles, Balls, Whistles, Peg Board Games, Books, Big Blue Car and Train to ride on, Step Stools, Blocks, Elmo Tickle Hands, Shoes, Trecking Poles, Stickers

Elmo, Sesame Street, Backyardigans, Disney/Pixar Cars Movie

Snuggling in blankets, Hiding under pillows, Throwing himself in a pile of pillows, Throwing rocks in the Koi Pond, Running around on the playground, Slides, Jumping, Climbing stairs, Throwing toys at the dogs (sigh), Baths, Showers, Hugs, Kisses, Teardrop (his stuffed dog he sleeps with), Blankie, Walks in his backpack carrier, Looking at our blog and pictures of his friends on their blogs, Greeting daddy coming home from work, Blowing raspberries, Smashing food in between his hands (grrr), Blowing Bubbles and chasing them

Not So Much!

Mac-n-Cheese, Cheese, Chicken (unless it's a nugget), Meat (most meats), Carrots, Broccoli, geez ... this could go on and on. Basically the only things he will eat are in the "So Much" food list!

Finding Nemo (seriously, he's scared of it!)

Any animal toy that suddenly "comes to life", Most activities that require him to sit still, Getting his ears cleaned, Brushing his teeth, Diaper changes, Going to the store (sigh), Most car rides, "Time-Out" in the corner, Mommy on the computer

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Family Tree

A fa
mily tree that grows and moves with you!

** UPDATED - 7 Feb 10 **

Family Tree - It's over 5 feet tall!

In an attempt to "warm-up" one of the walls, I had remembered seeing removable, peel-n-stick "wall art" back in the states. I came across the the Roomates Tree Branch Wall Sticker and new I had a perfect place for it. Waiting impatiently for my wall stickers I had a "Whoa! What if I do this!" moment ... turn the wall sticker into a family tree! Not sure what to expect I waited until it arrived and put up a few test branches to see what options I had. After literally weeks of trying to find the right mini-frames (and trying to be cost-conscience) I stumbled across the Puzzle Photo Frame ... not quite sure if it would work, I ordered it anyway ... 8-frames for $7.49 (I ordered 3 for a total of 24 mini-frames)! I waited 3-weeks for for this shipment ... all the while staring at the "test-branches" on my wall and overlooking my husband's "what the heck is that" look. I'd say, "trust me, it's going to be AWESOME"! So ... I finally received the frames, tore the large frame apart to get to the "mini-frames" ... and perfect!

Construction of the Tree

Tree Branch Wall Sticker: The wall sticker does not come "assembled", the branches, leaves, little twigs, etc are all separate stickers. After trial and error I decided to place the tree branches the way they were on the package. They really do hold up well to removing and "re-sticking" ... we have highly textured walls and though they do not recommend textured walls for this product ... they work great! The leaves were the last touch ... after the photo frames!

Frames: These frames are about 3x3 and weigh next to nothing. For ease of positioning and to avoid excess nail holes I used thumb-tack putty to stick the frames to the walls!

Pictures: The most time consuming part of this project was finding pictures of each family member ... in fact if you look close you'll see a few "blank" frames. After finding the right pictures, I edited them to black and white, brightened the photos and cropped them down to approx. 2.5 x 2.5 inch squares.

Letters: Just added! During our recent trip back to the U.S. I spent a considerable amount of time "stocking up" on craft supplies ... the letters being one of them. I bought these paper mache letters for 50% off, spray painted them black and used thumb-tack putty to adhere them to the walls. I would have preferred slightly smaller letters for this project ... but I used what I could get my hands on!

Photo Placement: After a lot of deliberation (of which I will spare you) .... the right side of the tree is "my side of the family", the left side is "my husband's side" and the center branch is "us". Each sibling and their family has their own branch. The tree progresses from the "bottom up" ... grandparents at the bottom, followed by parents and then siblings in birth-order. From there the tree grows "out". The sibling towards the base of the branch and their children in birth-order growing "out" from the branch base.

Supplies: If you want to create your own family tree with the supplies I used, save yourself hours of internet shopping! Here are the sites you can order your supplies. The thumb-tack putty can be found in just about any store.

Puzzle Photo Frame
Paper Mache Letters

My Thoughts: No doubt, next time we move I may display our family tree a little different, change around the placement, maybe play with colored photos. What I really like about this project is that it is versatile and easily changed! You can literally do whatever you want with this tree to make it your own.

If you like this project ... share it, blog about it, link to it, comment or just grab my button! I'd love for you to share your Family Tree project with us!

Look up ... then over ... click

I blogged about our Family Tree project! Just click on the Crafting tab.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pain in My Butt ...

No seriously!  Last Monday I woke up with horrible lower-back pain; something was out of whack ... it has migrated down into my right "cheek" and hip.  I've given up on the Motrin and dug out some leftover percocet from my c-section recovery ... yeah, apparently I don't clean out the medicine cabinet enough ... or I do but just keep the "good stuff".  Anyway ... it temporarily relieves the pain but after the meds wear off, so does any relief.  It's been a week so if it doesn't get any better in a couple days I guess I'll go to my PCM ... ugh.

We are wrapping up a nice 3-day weekend, we kept this weekend low-key ... did some nature-walking, took Kelty to the park, worked on a craft/home project, watched movies every night and now I'm trying to get Al to go to IKEA.  Ha!  I may lose that battle!  I'm also desperately trying to figure out my new "MacBook" that Al surprised me with.  My issues right now are with IPhoto .... not quite sure if I want to use it for organizing the photos ... the application has some great features but right now I find those extra's a little frustrating.  I also needed a new mac-compatible photo editing program so I purchased Photoshop Elements (my friend Michelle T. will be happy to hear that!).  So I'm dealing with a lot of computer changes that right now I find frustrating and confusing .... that's why posting is slow!  "Safari" the internet browser that Mac uses does not support the "compose" function in Blogger!  Hello!  I had no way of uploading photos and video's, etc.  So I had to download Firefox and change some settings in Blogger to get all my Blogger editing options back.  Let say my "potty-mouth" emerged this weekend while working from my new computer!

Helping Daddy takes his boots off

Running at the playground.  Oh!  We "met someone" at the park!  We were the only ones there and a mom with her 17-month old son and 3-year old daughter came to play.  Kelty bonded with the little kiddo's and the mom and I had a really nice conversation ... we traded numbers and we're going to set-up future play-dates!  

On a little nature-walk

In his new "Indian River" sweatshirt ... thanks Nana and Papa!  I think Autumn is in the air!  We are soooo excited!

My latest project ... our Family Tree!  The tree is over 5ft tall.

This evening I'll make a dedicated post about the Family Tree under my "crafts" tab.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Let's Talk

Some of you may have noticed that I have never posted anything about Kelty's speech, words or sounds ... well, that's because our little stinker isn't talking yet! Yup, almost 21 months and the extent of his vocabulary are noises like, "uh", "ah", "mmm", "pa", "da", "ma" ... that pretty much sums it up. So let's talk about it.

At Kelty's 18-month pediciatric appointment I discussed our concerns about his speech development; the pediatrician didn't seem too concerned as it's not uncommon for boys to talk later. To ease my mind he referred Kelty to Audiology for a hearing test and to EDIS (Early Intervention Services) for an assessment. Audiology result came back fine and because Kelty's non-verbal communication and cognitive skills were so high he didn't qualify for services with EDIS. The folks at EDIS did however work with the pediatrician to get Kelty referred to a speech pathologist.

We've been working with a wonderful speech pathologist at Lanstuhl Regional Medical Center for a couple weeks now and Kelty responds so well to her! She is actually blown away by Kelty's cognitive skills .... he just needs a little boost with his verbal communication. She has not "diagnosed" him with any oral-motor or auditory-processing disorders and I am not looking for or want a diagnosis ... so don't worry! I do believe that children are "over-diagnosed" and "labeled" way too early and too often ... don't get me started on that topic! But anyway ...

We are using a few different techniques with him during his sessions and at home and they seem to be working very well: Communication Temptation, Auditory Bombardment and Imitation of Oral Movements. She also recommended a few specific books which we FINALLY got in the mail!

So that's the story on the surface. Let me tell you how I really feel ...

Nothing breaks my heart more than watching my baby struggle to communicate ... he gets so upset when he can't get the words out ... you see the intensity behind his eyes but the sounds aren't making their way out of his mouth. He usually breaks down and cries ... which makes me cry.

I'm a stay-at-home mom .. it's my job to teach and educate our child ... let me just tell you what a hard blow it to see your child struggle with a developmental milestone ... can we say self-blame and guilt?! I beat myself up every day ... what am I doing wrong, what am I not doing right, I must not read to him enough, I'm not able to "teach" my child, I haven't kept him interactive enough with kids his age ... and the list goes on. I know I shouldn't feel this way but, well ... I do. Why is it that a stranger, our speech pathologist, can get him to make sounds that I can't? Let me tell you ... this is a hard thing to swallow!

So there you have it! We have a smart little tot that struggles every day to communicate verbally ... breaks my heart ... but I've put it out there.

Waiting for his appointment ... eating blueberries

Hooray! It's time!
We have a few video's of our exercises but our "upload" speed is so slow and I haven't been able to post any videos for a few weeks now.
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