I'd love a new vacuum, but funds are tight. If you are in the same boat, or just need a new vacuum, check out this contest at 5 Minutes for Mom to win a pink Dyson.

On Saturday Justin worked with his dad to help out, so that left the boys and I with one beautiful day to ourselves. As much as we missed spending Saturday with Dad, we mustered up some fun at the township park in the morning. I am amazed at how Jackson climbs up and down the little rock wall they have there. Looks like we are going to have an extreme sports kid on our hands! It must have really left an impression on Jackson! We got Chinese food for dinner and on the ride home Jackson wanted to see what his "fortune" was. I gave him one to open, and asked him what it said. He told me, "You will go to the park." Hah! Funny little guy.

Today we're going to spend the day at Mimi's and Poppy's to celebrate Justin's grandfather's birthday. The whole gang will be there, so that will be fun. We're looking forward to seeing everyone!

Win this!

Thought this little set of books by TyBook is really cool ~ hopefully I'll win!

For a special activity for Jackson this fall, Justin and I decided to sign him up for a class at Tumbleweeds. We did this last season and even had his 2nd birthday party here, but now he's old enough to go it alone following instructions from the teacher. It was nice so I could sit back with Liam and watch Jackson. He loves his class! As you can see, there's LOTS to do. He is learning to follow instructions, wait (somewhat) patiently for his turn, and how to get along with other little buds. They set up 3 different obstacles in his class and follow a theme. This particular week was "bugs." He's having lots of fun! Enjoy some pictures...

I found this on one my my favorite blogs, GirlTalk, and just had to share it!

Preparation for parenthood...

It's not just a matter of reading books and decorating the nursery. Here are 12 simple tests for expectant parents to take to prepare themselves for the real-life experience of being a mother or father.

1. Women: To prepare for maternity, put on a dressing gown and stick a pillowcase filled with beans down the front. Leave it there for 9 months. After 9 months, take out 10% of the beans.
Men: To prepare for paternity, go to the local drug store, tip the contents of your wallet on the counter, and tell the pharmacist to help himself. Then go to the supermarket. Arrange to have your salary paid directly to their head office. Go home. Pick up the paper. Read it for the last time.

2. Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who are already parents and berate them about their methods of discipline, lack of patience, appallingly low tolerance levels, and how they have allowed their children to run wild. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's sleeping habits, toilet training, table manners, and overall behavior. Enjoy it -- it'll be the last time in your life that you will have all the answers.

3. To discover how the nights will feel, walk around the living room from 5 pm to 10 pm carrying a wet bag weighing approximately 8-12 pounds, with a radio turned to static (or some other obnoxious noise) playing loudly. At 10 pm, put the bag down, set the alarm for midnight, and go to sleep. Get up at 12 and walk around the living room again, with the bag, until 1 am. Put the alarm on for 3 am. As you can't get back to sleep, get up at 2 am and make a drink. Go to bed at 2:45 am. Get up again at 3 am when the alarm goes off. Sing songs in the dark until 4 am. Put the alarm on for 5 am. Get up. Make breakfast. Keep this up for 5 years. Look cheerful.

4. Can you stand the mess children make? To find out, first smear peanut butter onto the sofa and jam onto the curtains. Hide a piece of raw chicken behind the stereo and leave it there all summer. Stick your fingers in the flower beds, then rub them on the clean walls. Cover the stains with crayons. How does that look?

5. Dressing small children is not as easy as it seems: first buy an octopus and a bag made out of loose mesh. Attempt to put the octopus into the bag so that none of the arms hang out. Time allowed for this: all morning.

6. Take an egg carton, using a pair of scissors and a pot of paint, turn it into an alligator. Now take the tube from a roll of toilet paper. Using only Scotch tape and a piece of foil, turn it into an attractive Christmas candle. Last, take a milk carton, a ping pong ball, and an empty packet of Cocoa Pops and make an exact replica of the Eiffel Tower. Congratulations! You have just qualified for a place on the play group committee.

7. Forget the BMW and buy a mini-van. And don't think that you can leave it out in the driveway spotless and shining. Family cars don't look like that. Buy a chocolate ice cream cone and put it in the glove compartment. Leave it there. Get a dime. Stick it in the cd player. Take a family-size package of chocolate cookies. Mash them into the back seats. Run a garden rake along both sides of the car. There. Perfect.

8. Get ready to go out. Wait outside the bathroom for half an hour. Go out the front door. Come in again. Go out. Come back in. Go out again. Walk down the front path. Walk back up it. Walk down it again. Walk very slowly down the road for 5 minutes. Stop to inspect minutely every piece of used chewing gum, dirty tissue, and dead insect along the way. Retrace your steps. Scream that you've had as much as you can stand until the neighbors come out and stare at you. Give up and go back into the house. You are now just about ready to try taking a small child for a walk.

9. Always repeat everything you say at least five times.

10. Go to your local supermarket. Take with you the nearest thing you can find to a preschool child -- a fully-grown goat is excellent. If you intend to have more than one child, take more than one goat. Buy your week's groceries without letting the goats out of your sight. Pay for everything the goats eat or destroy. Until you can easily accomplish this, do not even contemplate having children.

11. Hollow out a melon. Make a small hole in the side. Suspend it from the ceiling and swing it from side to side. Now get a bowl of soggy Cheerios and attempt to spoon them into the swaying melon by pretending to be an airplane. Continue until half the Cheerios are gone. Tip the rest into your lap, making sure a lot of it falls on the floor. You are now ready to feed a 12-month-old baby.

12. Learn the names of every character from Thomas the Train, Dora the Explorer, and the Wiggles.

When you find yourself singing "I’m the Map, I’m the Map, I’m the Map" at work, you finally qualify as a parent.

Happy 8 months Liam! Yesterday marked 8 months for him. He's crawling now, and pulling up, and teething big time!

I found this website called 5 Minutes for Mom. Really cute ideas, themes, contests, etc... It's on my favorite links on the side bar if ya want to check it out.

Well they have themes through the week and I decided to go along with it now and then. Tuesdays are the day to pick a project and, well, tackle it. I didn't read this until today, being Wed., so my Tackle it Tuesday will be done on Wed. I'm going to share before and after pictures of my biggest mess in the house right now. My walk in closet in my bedroom. I hope I'm not the only one with skeletons this big in my closet! But I wouldn't be terribly surprised if I was! It's going to take me all day working, off and on. Liam is teething and it's hard to get much done at one shot. So bear with me!

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

OK, 6 hours later and I'm done! Well, done enough. I have a cold and this just isn't making me feel better. ;) Still have a mass of other things to reorganize that I took out of the closet that didn't belong there, like feather bed and blanket, other blankets, pictures, office supplies, film, check book registers. Oi! . Well enjoy some before and after pictures. ***Warning, these photos are graphic!*** VERY MESSY! :)

Edited to add:
No, Jackson was not lost in the messy closet, though it appears he may have been in there when I opened the door! He went in to observe the mess and did agree it needed cleaning. I'm wiping tears away from laughing so hard when it struck me that he could have been lost in the mix there!

I found yarn for my first project I will attempt! Wool soaker pants for Liam. I think these colors are really vibrant and beautiful. Hopefully I can do this! I've been playing around and have figured out casting on and the knit stitch. I'm going to keep practicing and hopefully by the time this arrives I'll be ready to dig in!

Festival Weekend

A friend asked Justin if we love festivals the other day. Justin thought it odd, and then we realized, duh! We DO go to a lot of festivals! This weekend we started off with the Scottish Irish Festival at Green Lane Park. It was our third year going in a row. This year's visit was a little different in that we were outnumbered by wee ones. To help our very pregnant friend, Julianne, whose husband was away for the weekend, we brought her daughter Gabriela to the festival with us. Jackson and she love each other and enjoyed dancing, but when they wanted to go in different directions, we found things difficult with Liam along for the ride too. When everyone could stay in one spot, we loved listening to the band Barleyjuice on stage. They are described as "Pan-Celtic Rock." Whatever that is, it is the equivalent to rockin' fun music! Jackson and Gabriela had fun dancing to that and provided for quite the show.

On Sunday we headed downtown to South Street for Green Fest Philly. It's goal was to teach people how to live a little more green, or environmentally conscious. I am amazed at how ignorant I used to be about how wasteful I was, and still am in a lot of ways. With a few minor changes, we can all live a little more green and be better stewards here on Earth! It was a lot of fun, though boiling hot! Jackson had fun making musical instruments out of empty plastic containers and got to decorate them with construction paper, markers and stickers. He filled them with rice and was shaking away making music. He also got to make a neat bracelet from a soda bottle (with some help.) I was walking along and found the Maternal Wellness Center's booth and asked about their cloth diapering workshop I read they were having. They told me sorry that it was canceled because the girl never showed up. We got talking about cloth diapers and they asked me if I could start doing their workshops. (EEK!) I gave them my email - we'll see. I used to work in PR, so I technically am capable of speaking in front of crowds, but I'm always so paranoid that I'd come off sounding like an idiot. I should work on getting over that because it would be really cool to help people make informed decisions about the benefits of using cloth. Anyway, on we walked and saw the coolest modern mosaic garden made by artist Isaiah Zagar. It's all made from recycled materials. Words and photos can not do it justice. You must see it in person. It.is.amazing!http://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif

While walking back I spotted some neat yarn and knitted items. I must admit that I've been searching for a hobby and have thought, "Hmmm, maybe I can knit?!" It is in my blood, ya know. My mom crochets and her grandmother did also, and Nan (my dad's mom) knits up a storm. So - I popped in the shop, totally clueless and in awe at the same time. I felt like a kid. So I got my first needles, an instruction book, and some yarn. I am afraid of it all now too! I must just dig in I suppose. So if anyone gets socks or scarves for Christmas - know now that my blood (well maybe not blood), sweat and tears may be in them!

Oh, one last thing. We had a minor celebrity siting! We spotted Lisa Millard from HGTV's Design Star. We randomly came across the show while flicking through channels one lazy Sunday afternoon. She's a local Philly design artist and if you follow the link you'll see why she's easy to spot. I've never seen anyone with that hairstyle - and it stands out!

Well with all the adventures this weekend everyone was well tuckered tonight. Justin sadly watched the Eagles lose their opening game against the Packers. The boys went to bed early. It was certainly strange having a quiet house by before 8pm! Hopefully everyone sleeps well because I really need my rest. I think a cold is sneaking up on me! :( Well enjoy some more pictures ~ I never take enough. I must work on that!

We had to squeeze one more day at the beach before the season was over. All of the Isabell's went to Long Beach Island to spend the day on the sand and have dinner at The Boat House. We had a good few hours on the beach before the wind picked up and hurled the sand so hard at us that it stung. Liam started crying and it was just no good.

I have so many good memories going to LBI as a kid and teen, and I'm super excited to bring my kids there now to begin their relationship with the beach! So far they love it. Jackson could dig in the sand all day, and Liam must think the ocean is one big calming sound machine. The lull of the waves must have made it possible for him to crash out on a blanket under an umbrella. Not that there was a ton of other noise like kids screaming, gulls calling, and umbrellas flapping going on, too. Well enjoy the last beach pictures of this year!

Justin and I have been married 4 years now. September 6, 2003 we got married. Looking back, it seems like we have come a far way from the day we first got married! Having 2 (or three depending on how you look at it!) kids I think makes it seem like we should be married longer. That and I feel older than I am! I have a lot more gray hair now too! Well I love being married to Justin. He is my best friend, and constantly challenges me for the better. He leads and cares for our family wonderfully. I love you Justin! Happy 4 years!

We were blessed by Justin's mom and dad, who came to watch the boys so we could enjoy an evening out together. Mimi showed up at the door with her "suitcase" of Dunkin Donuts, much to Jackson's delight! He was very concerned when he came downstairs this morning to discover Mimi had forgotten her "suitcase." I had to explain how she brought it for him to enjoy. Funny boy!

Well here we go. At better lit video of Liam doing his baby thang. Check him out toward the middle where he bumped his tummy on the blocks. He's a fast recovering child! This was taken right around the same time his first tooth popped through, but you can't see it since it's just a sharp little pointy thing on his gums line.

To the zoo

It was a special and very rare occasion to have Justin join us for an adventure to the zoo. We just went to Lehigh Valley Zoo, rather than Philly. It was great. First off, it was the first morning that you needed long sleeves on in the morning. You know fall is around the corner when that happens! (Yay!) We saw some creatures, including river otter, swans, ducks, owls, falcons, arctic wolves, camels, emus, kangaroos and lorikeets. The lorikeets would be the special birds perched on my head! I had two there, and one on my shoulder. That was neat to say the least. I was just praying they wouldn't poo on my head! Jackson got a kick out of it and even had his first pony ride. That was a fun milestone!


I need to try to get more videos from my camera. I just figured out how to upload videos to the blog - so enjoy! I'm sorry, I know it's dark, but I'm testing this out. I'll take another video with better light next time. At lease you can get the idea of how Liam army crawls!

Didn't I just hold Liam for the first time in my arms? What happened to his tiny 8lb baby frame that was so helpless? Now he's getting into a sitting position on his own, and crawling, and pulling up and trying to cruise. It amazes me how fast this happened, and he is slower than Jackson. Quick, go and hug your babies before they are leaving for college tomorrow!

We had a fun day at the Crayola Factory with Mimi one day this summer! I will never forgot the Mr. Rogers episode I saw when I was little and he visit there and showed us at home how crayons were made. I was mesmerized how the perfect little red wax crayons looked all piled together, brand new. I just wanted to smell them! Well I got my chance to live vicariously through my son! We took the boys up and had a blast. There was more to do than we had time for. We must go again. Anything and everthing Crayola was at your fingertips to play with. Jackson will have much more fun going next year. He wasn't quite ready for scissors or more advanced projects. But he managed to make a little clay airplane and Mimi helped him make a turtle. We colored lots and enjoyed the "How Crayons are Made" show. (Finally got to see it person after 14 years of waiting!)

We were fortunate to make it to Liam's namesake, LBI, a few times this summer. Jackson loooooves the beach. Can't get enough! The first officiall visit was with Mimi, Poppy and Aunt Grace. I've been so spoiled by growing up living 45 min's or less from the beach, so the 2-2 1/2 hour drive is astounding to me. Takes some planning anyway, that's for sure!

We went down again a week later for an overnight at my sister, Trisha's, house. Jackson and cousin Ava had a blast together. It's awesome knowing they'll always have a fun and special relationship growing up together.