Sunday, March 8, 2009

Valentine Serenade!

Sorry it's been awhile posting this, but we are embarressed to say we are still trying to figure out our Flip.

As some may know, Rich's father (Opi) is an active member of a local chorus and quartets of barbershop style singers, the famous Hilton Head Barbershoppers. For Valentine's Day, the group delivers Singing Valentines throughout Hilton Head. This year, not only was Opi co-chair of this event, but he treated us with a private show at Omi and Opi's! (Omi, thanks for sharing your special Valentine with all of us!) Making the moment even more memorable, the group sang a special song to little Mae that we tried to video here.

We apologize -- it seems that most of the time the video starts to freeze part of the way through. Also, we are still figuring out how to maximize the sound, so you will have to max your volume to hear it. It was so beautiful in person! We hope you can enjoy it!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Good Luck, Daddy!

Finally some CURLING! This weekend, Rich and a team from the Club are headed up to NJ for the PCC Stone, a men's bonspiel. We miss our Plainfield friends very much, so the rest of us will be thinking of you while we get better!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Snow... in March?

Snow in NC seems rare enough, but in March?!?!?

Tough to blend in this time of year.

I know, some of our extended family was really hit with it in this last storm and we shouldn't be complaining (we really aren't, because we love the white stuff), but it wasn't even good snow! You couldn't make snowmen or snow angels; just the stuff that keeps the kids inside.

View from upstairs bedrooms

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Our "Fellow"

While this blog is focused on Collins' family fun, we are really excited to share in Kirsten's brother Will's big news: Will was selected for a Scattergood Emerging Scholars Fellowship for the spring semester.

He was selected based on a detailed proposal he submitted to create and execute an activity on his HCC campus to promote physical fitness and positive mental health, with a secondary purpose of distributing and making available to students information from local mental wellness associations and organizations on campus and within the community. He came up with the event entirely on his own after joining the Active Minds club on campus last fall, of which he is now the club's president.

We don't want to brag, but Will's was the only fellowship awarded to a community college student, and his project advisor is the executive director and founder of the national Active Minds organization, Alison Malmon. We are so proud of Will and his success in getting the fellowship -- and the funding -- for his event. We wish him the best with the event this May!

To read more about Will's project, visit his profile on the organization's website.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Splish, splash!

Bathtime just got more fun, now that we put two babies in the tub.

Why should Ben's first real bath be alone? The tub's so big. And Mae loves to play in the bath (not always to bathe), so she could be a good influence on him. This was out initial reasoning for the group bath, but turns out it was a great success. The kids love to splash each other and throw around their growing army of rubber duckies!

And it really makes sense. Whether one kiddo or two, there's no more or less water getting splashed on Mommy. Not sure what we'll do when they realize boys and girls are different, but for now we'll enjoy their general silliness about the water.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Happy Birthday, Elmo!

Rich, Ben, Elmo, Lulu/Jenn, and Mae, excitedly decked out in their Sesame Street gear (Mae is holding her Elmo hat behind her)

Mae and Ben were "invited" to Elmo's 3rd Birthday Party at our local Borders bookstore this weekend. Aunt Lulu was so excited, she even tagged along! We heard great stories about Elmo and Sesame Street, and played a great Elmo trivia game where Aunt Lulu won Bert soccer stickers for being so Sesame-smart! We even had some wonderful frosted birthday cookies (sorry, none for Ben) and got cool Elmo-birthday coloring sheets. The children's section at our Borders did a great job and made it lots of fun. Not only was it fun, it was fantastic!

Afterwards, we decided to keep on celebrating next door at Monkey Joe's (not to be confused with our "Monkey Will.") For those that have not been, Monkey Joe's is this awesome indoor center with all these cool inflatible funland things for kids to just crawl all over and through and around. This was our second trip (we went with Pop-pop when he visited last month), but Mae got to test out more of the "big kid" inflatible with Aunt Lulu (who is more "kid-sized" than Mae's parents). And with extra adult hands, even Ben got to get his bounce on!
A special thanks to our friend, Sherri, who told us about the birthday party!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

In "training"

As many may know, Kirsten is not exactly an athlete. Certainly, she doesn't think of herself that way. And all things considered -- she is certainly not one who aspires to ever be a runner.

That was, of course, until she found her newest adventure: the Krispie Kreme Challenge. She missed it this year, but it gives her nearly a year to "train." For those not familiar with this Raleigh-event, participants start at NC State campus and run 2 miles to the Krispie Kreme store, eat a dozen donuts and run the 2 miles back in 60 minutes. And the event raises money for a good cause, the NC Children's Hospital. What perfect incentive for someone like Kirsten? (Actually, there should also be donuts at the finish line, too, but we'll work on that.)

So, now she is in "training." And she is convinced she has an advantage to the majority of participants in training. By her estimation, they are runners that are trying to strategize the donut part; whereas Kirsten is a self-proclaimed "donuteer" -- a conneussier of donuts with a particular affection for the hot, glazed Krispie Kreme variety -- that is trying to strategize the running part. But now that we've put this on the blog, we are holding her to this. We don't know the date of next year's Challenge, but we'll keep you posted.

Here's the N&O article that inspired it all: Runner's Gorge, Gut It Out

This should be a fun year.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A breakthrough!

Tooth! Tooth! We have a tooth! Ben is very proud to show off his very own pearly white! Pictures are difficult to get (we learned this with Mae), but we'll post some as soon as it becomes more visible. You'll just have to take our word that it's there!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Playing along

Mae was fascinate by Opi's beautiful piano, but then when she discovered it made music she had to get up and see it.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's to all our friends and family! Valentine's is one of Kirsten's favorite holidays (but who are we kidding, Kirsten seems to love most holidays - especially obscure ones), so she and the babies have been hard at work making a variety of holiday surprises for some family that we are finally able to share (assuming folks have gotten theirs!).

Wreaths for the grandparents (Mae decorated the papers, and then both kids lent a "hand" or two)

Thumb-ful Valentines to aunts and uncles

Mae's V-owl-atines for her big sister (Robyn's sorority mascot is an owl)

Ben's sole-ful Valentines to Robyn and Rich

(last year, Mae made a similar picture for Rich) and Cheerio hearts!

We had a lot of fun this year! Not sure if we will be able to keep this up every year, but we are so happy to have been able to make these crafts and show our love!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ben Bites!

We know that many of you - our anonymous viewers from all around - have been eagerly awaiting the latest Ben news. He's recently had his 6-month check-up of which we are happy to report he is 18 lbs 3 ozs. and 27 inches in length! Not bad!

Since he is doing so well (and is so desperately interested he's developed food envy), we have finally started Ben on rice cereal. This is a big step, but necessary as Ben's already figured out how to drink from a straw (more than a few close-catches) and this week he got ahold of an open bag of cookies while Kirsten was grocery shopping and put his face right in, wide-mouthed looking for food.

We are finding that rice cereal isn't as exciting as the possiblity of getting some of Mae's cookies or Rich's milkshake, but he seems happy to be eating something new.

We don't have a lot of other health news, except to say that all his doctors say he looks healthy and is growing right on track! He is a happy baby, and that'i important. We still haven't seen a tooth yet despite the gallons of drool, but we see a solid bump so it's almost here!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Making Valentine's Special

Mae and Ben (and Kirsten) have been busy working on some special Valentine's for the family. While we can't show them to you just yet - don't want to give anything away before they arrive in the mail - we were eager to show our newest little cook hard at work on a Valentine's masterpeice! (And our newest Pony Express Rider!)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ride 'em, Buckeroo!

After yesterday's successful swing event, Ben has been interested in movement! He lets us know by making a repeated and strong swinging motion regularly. So today we brought out Mae's rocking horse and thought we'd let him have a go.

As you can see, the horse was a big hit with both babes! Mae even wanted to ride tandem with our little cowboy. Now he just needs a little hat, and he'll look like his Pop-pop (wish I could find that picture to share!)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Play Day

Today we had a WONDERFUL time with our friends Logan and Connor (and their parents) at Pullen Park. Our friend Miss Sherri joined us and took lots of great pictures! We were sad to find the train and carousel not working, but we made our own fun! Connor's mom brought a soccer ball and all the kids had a great time passing it around, while the dads tried to coach them in their kicking skills (Guys, they're less than 3 years old!)

While we were at the park, Ben got a chance to try-out the swings... and he LOVED it! He didn't want to stop! Our babies are growing up so fast!

We are only putting up a few photos because we want to check with everyone first, but we hope to post a few additional cute pictures in the future.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mae Mix!

Today was Mae's day in the kitchen - making a toddler-style trail mix! Mae got to decide what went in the mix, how much, and then how to mix it up! She put on a lovely apron (from Miss Sherri's collection) and dug right in to mixing, as you can see!

Kirsten read about this toddler activity here: Blissfully Domestic - Cooking with Toddlers: Snowy Trail Mix. We mostly stuck to the recipe but modified it by what we had on hand and enjoyed eating. It was a lot of fun for everyone and Mae seemed genuinely proud of her creation. I definately think we will try this again in the future. But we will be sure to limit some of the total amounts (rather than letting the toddler handle the whole jar of toasted sunflower seeds, which all ended up in the mix). We also had a little trouble getting her to put the ingredients into the bown instead of her mouth, but it made for great pictures

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Baby Love

For Christmas, Mae got her first real baby dolls (Sandy S and Tabbi gave Mae her first doll, which she loves and recently named Darby), and from time to time she shows a real interest in them. But, most of the time she would rather help take care of her real baby brother.

Today was one of those times where Mae insisted we include Baby Julie in all of our activities. First, we put on Baby Julie in a new outfit and Mae held her in her highchair while she tried to eat. Then Mae disciplined Baby Julie for eating rocks (a problem we've been having with Mae lately). Then Mae tried to feed Baby Julie an empty bottle of Ben's (not successful). Then Mae decided she was kind of done taking care of Baby Julie, so she put her in Ben's swing and covered her with a dishtowel to keep her warm.

So, we thought Baby Julie was done for the day until Mae insisted Baby Julie was crying and needed to be "cawwied" gesturing to Ben's Bjorn baby carrier. Quick thinking and Mae had her own baby carrier, which she wore all afternoon playing and doing her thing.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Virtual Visitors, Welcome!

It's amazing for us to realize that we've been online maintaining this blog for more than a year. While it's been fun, we often wonder who if anyone is reading our posts, looking at our pictures, tuning into our adventures. Most of the time, the only way we can judge if our posts are being read is by reading comments -- which we have two friends that are wonderful with leaving us notes. We also hear from time to time verbally from folks that they saw this picture of Ben, or thought this at story about Mae was funny giving us a rough idea that maybe a few people check our blog from time to time (by the way, we would love to see comments from more people this year).

Imagine our surprise when we recently learned that in the past year we've had 503 different visitors from 44 different countries (Hello family and friends in the UK, Germany & Spain as well as Canada, Australia, Romania and elsewhere)! At first, we were a little concerned with all the international traffic, but we learned that the majority of people are visiting because we "invited" them to look.

Here are some more statistics on our blog: the average visitor spends a little over two minutes looking at a page and a half per visit. The majority of our visitors are using Internet Explorer and cable modems. The blog was looked at more than 2,830 times in the past 12 months. We aren't sure how this compares to other bloggers, but for a little family diary we are pretty excited about our numbers!

Thanks to everyone who is checking in on us! We hope you'll keep checking back with us, and we hope that this year you'll even leave us a little note in the comments sections so we know who you are! Thanks for a fun year; let's hope next year finds us as healthy and happy!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Happy Birthday, Alex!

We hope you have an awesome day! We are thinking of you!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Week of milestones!

We've had a big week here in the Collins house! On Wednesday, Ben finally rolled over on his own (back to front). He had been rolling over for almost two weeks, but only when he is crying in a major fit or asleep. It wasn't until Wednesday, when he decided he wanted to look for Kirsten in the kitchen (not that he could crawl into the kitchen, but he doesn't seem to know that). Not back to front action yet, but he does get on his belly and spin and inch around.

The big day, though, was Friday! It began when everyone woke up to learn that Mae can open doors. Over Christmas, Mae moved into a big girl bed because she showed us that she could put her leg over the side of her crib. It only took a day or two (and a few days since then), but she goes down for her nap and for the night no problem. At night, we keep our door open so when she gets up we know she is up but we keep Ben's door shut to keep her out unsupervised. But on Friday, Kirsten heard an odd noise over the monitor and went in to find the little girl playing on the futon with the television on (frustrated because she can't figure out how to change the channel to Playhouse Disney). Not sure how she got in there, Kirsten asked Mae to open the door and sure enough, she has figured it out. On went all the door guards that morning!

Then at lunchtime, Mae and Ben were playing on the floor, both on the their bellies, and Mae decided to show Ben how to crawl. First she crawls a few inches, then sits down and looks at Ben. Then she crawls back next to him and tries again. One of these times, Kirsten put her hands behind Ben's feet so he could push off, and he actually scooted the few inches to Mae. It was really exciting, despite this poor narrative.

But THEN the big moment came -- after Mae went down for his nap, Ben said "Da-da!" He had been talking all day long; they both had (inspired we think by the awesome Hurricanes' hockey game we took them to the night before)! And he had been making all kinds of new sounds, but he got it all together and blurted out "Da-da" and kept saying it until bedtime. (For those keeping score, Mae's first word was "Ma-ma" and we *think* Robyn's was "cat").

What an amazing week!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Little Mommy

Mae has been very interested in Ben's care for sometime now. When he cries, she tries to give him (sometimes a little forcefully) a pacifier or brings over a new toy for him to play with. When he is in his swing, she will often go over and push him (sometimes a little forcefully). When he is on the floor for tummy time, she will often go over and show him how to roll and crawl.

Now that Ben is also being fed with a bottle, she has been asking to feed him, "Momma, bottle Ben. Mae help." So, today we let her and she did a great job!

They are so cute, it almost makes us cry!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy 6 months!

Sorry, Ben, no cake for you.

Our boy has hit the 6 month mark! This morning we celebrated with a little party and an equally little cake. (Kirsten thought this pineapple-upsidedown cake was somehow more helathy than regular cupcakes). Ben has been doing well, and is now well over 17 pounds! Now he needs to stay this way (well, he can get bigger if he must!).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More snow pictures

Since snow is so rare here, we had to spend more time appreciating it up close! Here are more pictures!

This was taken in the evening when the snow had already started to melt.

Snowman Jim with Snowman John (We don't know where Mae comes up with these names!)

Mae and Ben's first sledding adventure!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow Angel

So last winter when we first introduced Mae to snow on our trip to Vermont, Rich "helped" her make her first snow angel. This process included some pictures of an unhappy baby who did not care for the white stuff (how different a year makes!).

Not a bad angel if it weren't for all the grass! This was made early in the snow fall, before it reached more than 5 inches.

To ensure that Ben will not feel left out of this wonderful tradition, we subjected him to the same test. Please note that his distress was not at the snow -- that he liked; he was upset that Kirsten set him down when he was in a mood to be held.

Let it SNOW!!!

Imagine our excitement and surprise when we awoke this morning to find REAL SNOW!!! We had to run right out and play before it melted! (Although, Pop-pop told us with the weather forecast it would probably last the day). Kirsten did not think it would ever "really" snow in our new home, but Rich knew better!

Pop-pop helps Mae make snowballs for her very own snowman, before heading home to Maryland.

Ben seems to like the snow (until we put him into it).

Their first snowman! Very NC -- using acorn caps for eyes and nose. It was so small, we put it on our steps afraid we would lose it in the yard.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tea Party!

With Mae and Ben and Kirsten still recovering from their colds, Pop-pop came down to visit while Rich went to Maryland. While he was here, he helped Mae have her first NC tea party (Mae had her first tea party with Nana last May). But this time, Mae got to serve the pretend tea (with a little help from Pop-pop) to her special guests: Pop-pop, Momma, Ben, Elmo and Abby Cadabby. Mae was a delightful host, Ben a pleasant guest, and we forsee many more tea parties in the future!

Ben's first food: pretend tea!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Snowman slippers

As many may know, Mae loves snowmen. So Nana and Pop-pop sent Mae a snowman bouncy ball, a pair of snowmen mittens and a pair of cute snowmen slippers! Nana also got Mae a matching scarf with a reindeer on it -- too bad we probably won't get to use the cold weather gear down here. Unless we make our way north, it could be awhile before Mae sees a real snowman.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Sick, but stately

The babies and Kirsten are fairing well so far this year -- all home sick with a virus. So, fun time for them has to be creative and low-energy (have to save up strength to heal!).

Today's fun was putting Mae's hair up in a pony tail. It's hard to tell with all her curls, but it's almost long enough! She was very proud of her "punny tell," as she called her through her congestion. When not sick, her pronounciation has gotten very good and becomes clearer every day. Ben, on the other hand (who is also talking all the time), is still hard to understand :)

We hope everyone is staying warm and healthy so far this year!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Snowman Jim

Since we started celebrating Winter (we had to make a choice to celebrate, as much of the season it's been pretty warm here), Mae has been fascinated by Snowman. Forget Santa, the reindeer are OK, and trees are only cool if they are lit -- which my toddler thinks should be all the time. But SNOWMEN -- they are just "awesome," as Kirsten and Mae are fond of saying.

Since we have no snow, Kirsten and Mae made their own snowman today using old socks, some yarn, washable markers (in case we ever need to use the socks) and a scrap of paper. Now, we aren't trying to be sexist -- Mae decided hers was indeed a snowman, who she promptly has named Jim. (Rich said, "Jim? Really, Jim?")

Snowman Jim has been helping Mae over her cold, watching Seasame Street, sharing her breakfast, getting lots of smooches, taking naps, basically doing everything with Mae. She even had to have his picture taken! (Momma's pictures weren't good enough, and Mae had to take a few herself.)

Guess we really didn't need to her much for Christmas.