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!