Monday, February 28, 2011

We went to Phipps Conservatory

Grandma loves the orchid show at Phipps so we took her there today! Aaron lost his mind 3/4 of the way through & cried the whole way home. Good grief!

It was horribly overcast today so I was using the Canon with the lightscoop & flash... the quality isn't super.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Boy's Room: In Case You Were Wondering

We got the decals for the wall from Amazon. (Hat tip to our friend John for the Amazon gift card for Christmas! We also bought a new kitchen food scale to help us with our weight management. Thanks!)

They stick very well, even though our house has textured walls.

We bought the paint from Walmart for $7.99. I didn't even know walmart had their own line of paint, but they do! I read some reviews on it and, admittedly, it doesn't have the highest quality. It is manufactured under the ColorPlace label for Walmart by Sherwin Williams. Most reviews say that if you are willing to do a couple coats it will do just fine for you. We did 2 coats of the "Spring Garden" color. 

I think I spent $18 total for the letters & brown paint for their names (and Lauren's initials for her room.) 

So all in all, it was a pretty inexpensive way to jazz up the boys' space. We decided to go for it before we moved them together to try and make Ian feel excited about the move. New paint, wall decals, his name on the wall... all ways to show him he wasn't moving into Aaron's Room, but into a completely new room for both of them. Due to illnesses and baby-fussies, it ended up taking us a month to finish the project. I actually think that was really good, though, because it allowed the boys/all of us to get used to the changes gradually. We finished the painting over last weekend. The decals arrived yesterday (& I bought & painted the brown letters yesterday, too) so we pulled it all together before dinner last night with a big, exciting finish! Ian & Aaron helped move Ian's things (bed, dresser, books, etc.) over & it all went great!

They are both over the moon about the new space. For less than $50, I'd say that's a major win. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New Boys' Room

They slept all night. Somehow, Ian went to bed without his blankie and raggie, though, so when he heard Roger leaving this morning, he realize he didn't have them and came out to get them. It was too late by the time I caught up with him... Aaron was awake too. So we got up at 6:00. I know that's not horrible, but it is a full hour earlier than we usually get up. So today is going to be a long day. Now to figure out how naptime is going to work...

Roger put the boys to bed at 9:30. At 10:15 he emailed me from the bedroom, where the monitor is, to tell me there nothing but silence. Too sleeping tots up in there! I know it will not always go so well, but  the first bedtime together was a success! Praise the Lord!

At some point, I will hopefully replace these pictures with non-phone-camera pictures. It cost us a grand total of $33 for the paint & decals. The walls are green, though you can't really tell in the pictures. When Ian is ready for a bigger bed, we'll probably do bunk beds and change it up a little again, but right now, the boys are pretty excited about their new digs.

Since tonight's the night, though, I figured I'd put the photos up to commemorate the occasion... hopefully it isn't a disaster.

Sneak Peek

I'll be back to blogging next week, hopefully! 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Casserole

Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Casserole 
- 6 English Muffins, torn into 1 in. pieces *I used a knife and cut them. So much easier than tearing.
- 1 cup half & half
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar *I cut back on the sugar a little, it was too sweet for me the 1st time.
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie seasoning
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 tart apple, peeled and sliced
- 2 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces (best cut when frozen)

Butter the bottom of an 8" x 8" casserole, and scatter half of the English muffin pieces on the bottom. Place half of the apple slices over the muffin pieces. Whip together the half & half, eggs, 1/4 cup of sugar, spices and pumpkin puree in a small bowl. Pour half of the pumpkin cream mixture over the apples and muffins. Repeat the process, layering muffin pieces and apple slices, then covering them with the remaining pumpkin cream. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp of sugar and the butter pieces. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for one hour at 350ยบ F, or refrigerate overnight and bake before serving.
Serve warm.


This recipe is from my friend Joanna Masters. We've both made it a couple of times and determined it needs a little extra liquid. I usually just add extra milk (we use 2% most of the time.) I've also made it a couple times with day old bread. It's still VERY good. And once I omitted the apple and it was STILL very good! I usually do it the night before and let it soak in the fridge until morning, then pop it into a cold oven and add a few minutes to the baking time. 

the * notes in the recipe are Joanna's notes. 

Let me know what you think if you make it. 

Also, I do realize it's very funny for me to pull a recipe out of the coffers because I'm not feeling super, but wanted to blog something! Maybe I should make some Breakfast Casserole to help me feel better? 

Saturday, February 19, 2011

When mama gets sick

I know my posts this week have been lackluster.

I've have been overcome by  the crud that the rest of the family has been fighting. I resisted long and hard, but tonight, my face feels like I got kicked my a horse & I'm coughing.

So I'll be back to more meaningful posts soon, I hope!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oliver's Labels

My sister introduced me to Oliver's Labels at the beginning of the school year. We were both looking for an alternative to hand writing with permanent marker. Since Ian hands most of his clothes, especially outerwear, down to Aaron, I was looking for a way to uniquely label our things so we could use them for multiple children.

My favorite are the shoe labels. They are stuck like cement in the kiddos' shoes!

If something gets lost? The person who finds it will log on to Oliver's website & they will, in turn, let me know that our lost item was found*.

*We haven't lost anything lately, so it is my hope that this would actually work.

Here's the link to shop through my page. I will also put it in the side bar as soon as I remember how.

Monday, February 14, 2011

First time on the swings

At Frick Park's Blue Slide Playground on 2/13/11

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fell Asleep at the Table!

If you know the Vandervort kids, you probably know that they never sleep.

Ok, maybe that's not true, but what is true is that our kids rarely fall asleep anywhere but in their beds. It doesn't usually matter how tired, how much running, how late, etc. They just aren't the kind of kids to lay their weary heads down and just sleep.

We had a surprise visit from Emily & Adam & co. today. We went to 2 playgrounds (outdoor until we got cold, then to the indoor one) and they boys played straight through naptime. After we were done playing we went next door and had lunch/dinner. Neither Isaac, nor Ian, nor Aaron, nor Asher misbehaved at dinner. They sat nice and ate well. As Aaron was finishing up his meal, I kept looking at him thinking, man, he looks tired! He was holding his own, but then literally before our eyes he started to sway. I asked Roger to pick him up because I was afraid he was going to hit his head on the table.

He absolutely, 100 percent fell asleep in his high chair sitting at a restaurant. 

Hilarious! And pathetic!

I wish I had snapped a picture of the rare occasion. 

That is how hard they played today!

I can't wait until spring/summer & the daytripping with the cousins the warmer weather will bring!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mom's Weekend Morning Out- Coca Cafe

Lauren & I went for breakfast this morning with some girlfriends to Coca Cafe in Lawrenceville. It was tasty. The service wasn't fabulous.

I had almond french toast with lemon cream sauce and berries. And some almond coffee drink that was really good. And a side of bacon. Always have to have bacon.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Change 3 Things

Who is with me? When you accept the challenge (by liking their facebook page) post on their wall and tell them I sent you! (*Just for fun... I don't get anything from them at all. I just think it's a cool challenge that anybody with kids in diapers can do!)


More Info from CottonBabies

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Our Pittsburgh Children's Museum membership is expiring  next month and I'm starting to think about what we should do for next year.

We always have a zoo membership. It is hands-down the best value membership for a family with young children in Pittsburgh. It is free to park, you can take your own food/lunch, it opens early, it has playgrounds, it isn't so big that you can't get through the whole thing before naptime, there's lots of shade. It's great. We even go in the winter when it isn't bitter cold. We had a zoo membership before we had kids!

I like the Children's Museum, but it isn't a great 1-on-3 outing. I just don't feel comfortable going there by myself with the kids anymore... too many nooks, crannies, exits, etc. And Aaron has gotten hurt there every single time we have gone. So I'm thinking that we probably should not renew a membership to somewhere that I don't like going by myself.

My Little Outback or other indoor playgrounds. We won't buy a membership there, but we do buy the day passes in bulk.

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh? National Aviary? Phipps Conservatory? We've been members at each of these places previously, but should we switch back?

I prefer places that have only one entrance to the play area and not a lot of "visual blockage" in the middle. (Obviously that's so I can keep track of the boys even when they're running in different directions.) I like places you can take your own food and snacks. I like places with free or very cheap parking.

What are your favorite memberships? Where do you consider your best-value memberships?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Morning in This Life

Last week the mom of one of Ian's classmates told me that if she could ever help me to let her know. It was a kind offer. It is a good thing it was also a genuine offer. Today I took her up on it... (and she probably regrets having made the offer!)

Let me just run you through our morning.

6:55- Roger left for work. It woke Ian, who proceeded to wake Aaron. So we were up before the alarm.
7:05- I realized it snowed overnight & after checking, find Ian's school delayed to 10am start. Normally not a big deal, but today Aaron had his ENT post-op check-up, so now I'm going to have to take 3 kids to the doctor's office.
7:15 I remember that Ian's soccer starts today and is supposed to be from 11:30-12:15. Call Savannah's mom to find out what they're doing about soccer...she calls me back to tell me it is from 12:00-12:45.
8:45 Get everyone's coats, shoes, backpacks, etc. and buckle kids into car.
8:55 Turn van key. It doesn't start. Oh Crap. not today, Lord!!!

  • call Roger to alert him of the situation and ask him to call ENT to cancel/reschedule since we're going to be late at the very best
  • call AAA
  • call Savannah's mom to ask if she can take Ian to school, since he is a puddle of tears on the garage floor over missing school & soccer.
  • call mechanic to tell him we'll be stopping by (he's my friend's dad so he takes good care of us & knows we have 3 little ones & don't like to be without a vehicle...)
  • call my dad/mom to gripe.
  • call sister to gripe
  • get phone call from AAA telling me they are "delayed"
9:50 Send Ian off with Savannah for the very first time ever with someone other than me, Roger, or Papa... (Savannah's mom did call me when she got home to tell me he was fine at school.)

10:30 Still waiting on AAA.
11:00 Still waiting on AAA.
11:15 AAA finally rolls up and determines our brand new in October battery is deader than a doornail. He jumps us & recommends I don't turn the van off again until I'm at the mechanic.
11:30 Arrive at mechanic... he had already ordered the new battery & we were waiting for the supply store to deliver it. In the meantime he took the old battery out... and the clock ticks on... 
12:10 I remind him I have to pick Ian up from school at 12:45. He reassures me that the battery is on its way. And the clock ticks on.
12:25 I call Savannah's mom and ask her to make sure Ian is safe & accounted for because I'm literally a hostage at the mechanic (with Aaron...thank God for iPhone games and Lauren...thank God for boobs.) and won't be able to make it back to pick Ian up. The shop is at least 15 min from school.
12:30 The battery arrives & is installed. 
12:35 I take off down the road to get Ian.
1:10 We finally arrive home for a very late lunch.

Total drama. Thank Goodness for Savannah's mom. My head hurts. Why did we need another new battery? Why did it happen today with all the crap that was already going on and not tomorrow (or yesterday) when I had no place we had to be? I should also mention that Savannah's brother Dylan got sick at school today & Michelle had to go pick him up. While she was still looking after Ian. So she had to drag two 3.5 year olds in with her to pick up her son from the nurse's office. Total insanity. 


It is seriously never a dull moment around here. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What are we going to do when...

Lauren is old enough to want to play the iPhone too?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Meringue Cookies

I needed a sweet bite today amidst sick babies and running to the doctor during naptime. I saw these cookies on My Bakingdom a few days ago and really wanted to try making them. We didn't have raspberry extract so I used vanilla. They were pretty easy to make...and to pipe it, since I don't have a large enough star tip, I used a plain circle. They aren't as pretty as the originals, but they are tasty!

Isn't he cute?

Oh one other thing happened. Aaron had a crazy asthma attack after only an hour of baking and we had to go to the doctor's office in a hurry. I decided to just switch off the oven and leave the cookies inside...and hope for the best. Good move! We returned 3 hours later to almost completely cooled pans of perfectly baked cookies.

Someday I will make the raspberry chocolate ones. These are delicious, too!

Dear Aaron could use a Prayer...

He is very sick today.

High fevers and terrible coughing, wheezing, etc.

Having missed nap for a doctor visit, he's crashing on the couch before dinner

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Another store-bought for homemade swap: Chocolate Syrup

We ran out of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup today. Almost a crisis. The kids don't seem to be feeling very well today and keep asking for chocolate milk.

I've been staring down the list of ingredients on the Hershey's bottle for quite some time now. Willing it to say sugar instead of High Fructose Corn Syrup. (HFCS) Believe what you want about HFCS, but I personally have read enough to be in the "it's not good for you" camp. I try to eliminate it from our diets as much as I can. (This is partly why we don't regularly drink pop. We get our "fizzy" fix from seltzer.)

So on a whim, to avoid a chocolate milk crisis, I whipped up a batch of homemade chocolate syrup.

I adapted my recipe from this one:

After reading a couple of recipes and the comments on those recipes, I learned that chocolate syrup really needs milk in it, so I did half water, half milk. I also saved the Hershey's bottle and put my syrup in it, just for ease of storing & pouring.

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
2 cups sugar
dash salt
3 Tbsp. baking cocoa (I used hershey's powder)
1 tsp. Vanilla

Whisk water, milk, sugar, salt, & baking cocoa in a sauce pan over medium heat until boiling. Set timer & boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Cool completely. It will thicken as it cools. 

I'll post a picture as soon as I can.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

When I was Young...

Eh, maybe I should rephrase that and say: before I had kids...

I could start a painting project in the morning and finish before lunch. I haven't really painted that many rooms, especially totally on my own, but there have been a couple.

And they did not take me days and days to finish. Not even a whole day to finish. 

And this is the story of my life right now. I get precious few minutes to do projects so they take me forever to finish...if they ever get finished.

Right now I'm painting Aaron's room, our former guest room, a color that Ian picked. When I'm done, we will move Ian in with Aaron. Then I get to pain Ian's room for Lauren. I am very much looking forward  to doing Lauren's room. I wanted to do Aaron's room, too, so I am, but it is annoying me. I only get to work on it in the morning and specifically when Ian & Aaron are both at school, so that means Wednesday mornings. And Lauren is only good for playing by herself for about 15 minutes at a time. At this rate it is going to be May before I'm done. 

When we're all done with the painting and moves, we'll all start sleeping better again, right? 

It is all about sleep. Everything is always about sleep.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Twerrible Towel

Our Me-Me-Me Society

I saw another example of our me-me-me society today at Ian's preschool registration.

Here are the details the school gave us regarding the registration process:

1. Registration is at 9:15 on February 1, 2011. You can arrive at 8:50 to take your child to his classroom before reporting to the fellowship hall. You must take your child to his class before you come to registration.

There was a 2 hour delay in the local public school district today so that meant preschool had a 10am start. I called to find out if registration was also delayed by an hour and it was. So that would only change the instructions above by saying "registration begins at 10:15, you can come at 9:50 to drop your child off."

But here's what actually went down:

We arrived at 9:45 (because we try to be a couple minutes early to everything.) When we walked in the fellowship hall, it was already packed with people. When we got our "number" for the "up" system, it was ELEVEN. There were 3 different age classes to sign up for so we were number 11 in our group. There were probably 25 kids in line ahead of us.

What makes me mad is this:

When the crap did they show up? And why were they given numbers before 9:50? If it says come at 9:50 and that registration doesn't actually start until 10:15, why were the people who got there at 9:30 given numbers? That's not fair. No numbers should've been handed out before 9:50, in my opinion. What's stopping people, eager to secure their child's spot in the limited class space, from arriving an hour early? Two hours? How important is it to you?!

There were only 14 spots in the class Ian was registering for and we arrived at the time when the numbers were supposed to be given out, but we got number 11. What if we had come on time for registration and been handed number 15? That's the waiting list. I totally get "first come first served." But not when I could easily have come much earlier too.

I didn't go any earlier because the rules specifically said don't come until 9:50. So I didn't. And because I was playing by the rules I almost missed out! The numbers for Ian's class were called all the way up to 19, and none of those parents arrived after the start of registration. None of them. One dad was rather upset, saying, "So my daughter has come here for 2 years already and now she's wait-listed for her last year because I didn't come an hour early? That's ridiculous."

I have to agree.

To me it is just another example of this sad place we live where hardly anybody plays by the rules anymore, especially when it involves their kid and getting a "good" space for them for school. I mean, how far are you really willing to go? How many rules are you willing to "bend?" How many times are you going to teach your children, by example, that bending rules and pushing others to the side just to get yourself ahead is ok?

And I wrote this even though Ian got his spot and he's all signed up for next year. What if he hadn't?