Saturday, November 28, 2009

Fun @ Jumpin' Castle

The boys and I ventured to the Jumpin' Castle in Warrendale on Black Friday. It is a nice establishment and the boys had a good time with their friends. However, I don't think we'll be going too often as it is a bit expensive and patrons are not allowed to bring their own food into the facility to eat. The owner cited peanut allergies as the main reason why she prohibits outside food in the common area. But, they do have birthday party areas available. Therefore, you play until your children are hungry and have to retreat to the very small reception area to eat.

It was so great to see so many friends at the same time WITH our children. Michelle was in from TN. Erika, Brenda and Jennifer were there, too. It was a great time. Between the five of us we have nine children: Walnut, Peanut, K, C, L, S, L, J and B. Needless to say, the kids had a blast. We were there for over 3.5 hours and both of the boys were non-stop. All in all-good times!


Thanksgiving 2009 was spent at Nana and Pap Kocan's house this year. Dinner was delicious and the conversation was abundant. I was even allowed to load Nana Kocan's dishwasher (long story). There were @ least 25 turkeys in Nana and Pap's yard. so cool

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Food for Thought

The Shabby Nest is one of my new favorite blogs. Check it out if you like designing and decorating on a dime.

Tidy Brown Wren is also one of my favorites. The author gives you interesting tips without overwhelming the reader.

Parenting @ Blisstree is another good blog with topics that go outside of the normal mom blog topics...but not too far.

MotherThoughts is just plain good.

Mama-Om---LOVE IT!!!

Suburban Turmoil the name says it all. I love scanning the entries to see what the blogger has to say about the world she lives in.

The Mom Crowd is structured for the slightly off characters of the world-me. It is so easy for me to find things.


Monday, November 23, 2009

HMP: Peanut and his Toddler Bed

About a week ago, Bob and I resurrected the use of the inflatable Elmo bed for Peanut. We used it for Walnut when he was a toddler to transition him to the toddler bed from the crib. Mind you, Walnut was a much better sleeper. Nevertheless, we finally decided to convert the crib for Peanut. Wish us luck! We hope and pray that he sleeps!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Women of "Heartland Pastures"

Dateline: Sunday, November 22nd at approximately 7:45 a.m.-I noticed that something was different about my next door neighbor's house. T. had a Santa Claus flag hanging. We were gathering in the car to go to 8:00 a.m. mass and were rushing to get there on time. As we backed out of the driveway, I said to Bob, "She's decorated for Christmas. I can't believe it!" When I had come home on Saturday, cornstalks, pumpkins, Indian corn, flowers of autumnal colors and harvest themed flags were everywhere in T.'s yard. Bob started laughing uncontrollably.

We call our neighborhood the "Hurry Up and Die" block. Usually, the crazy women of "Heartland Pastures are rushing on THANKSGIVING night to get up their Christmas decorations.

So, as we continued to back out of the driveway, I said to Bob, "Does L. have her Christmas decorations up?" He yelled, "Yes!" His complete laughter made me laugh. As we proceeded down the hill to church, I said, "I bet C. has her decorations up. There is no way that T. and L. will be outdone by C." We went to church, breakfast and headed home.

On our trip back to the house, I drove past C.'s house. Lo and behold...CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS! Bob and I just shook our heads and LAUGHED!

My neighborhood is the epitome of "Keeping Up With the Joneses." However, the Kocanuts don't compete with the Joneses.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Walnut, Builder of Trivets

Home Depot offers Kids' Workshops the first Saturday of every month. This month's product is the trivet. We had a private workshop through BFF. A big thanks to Heather Parker for a great time.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pittsburgh's Light Up Night 2009

It was a balmy night for Pittsburgh's Annual Light Up Night. We left the Kocanuts house at 4:00 pm, made it to Station Square by 4:30, parked and prepped for a night of lights, music, fun and walking. Bob loves Joe's Crab Shack so we decided to eat there for dinner. I thought for sure that Pittsburgh would be completely packed but Station Square's population was light and that made me happy. We rode the train at Bessemer Court, watched Cinderella, Aladdin, Peter Pan and Snow White sing and dance, ate a few peppermint candy canes, checked out the Christmas tree, took the T over to Wood Street, ventured to PPG during the parade, checked out the gingerbread houses and ice skating rink, ventured back over to Station Square via the Smithfield Street, watched another variety of Christmas shows and called it a night. Much to our contentment we got to see the fireworks, too-from the very warm van. All in all, it was an amazing night. I loved watching the boys in their pjs watching the fireworks as the ooohhed and ahhhhed. It made it all worth it. We are blessed. And, we are grateful.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Running (or slowly walking) Through the Lights @ Hartwood

Last year, Bob and I really wanted to take the boys to Hartwood Acres in Allison Park for the 4th annual Run Through the Lights for Project Bundle Up. It was frigid and Peanut was just a little guy at the time. So, we opted not to go.

This year, I was a little leary as Bob told me that he had to go out of town on the day of the event. However, the weather in Pittsburgh has been wonderful. This changed my mind. On the day of the event I decided to ask Walnut's buddy if he wanted to go with us. J joined the boys for dinner and the main event. We all had a fantastic night for a great cause.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Conversations With a Four Year Old-Part I

I think that I am going to start a chronicle of different conversations between Walnut and me. We often have pretty interesting conversations when Bob and Peanut are not with us. When we venture to different events for Mommy and Walnut time different topics are discussed. Here are two conversations on the way to swimming lessons tonight:

"Mom, can we go to the North Pole?"
"Walnut, the North Pole is really far away. It would take us a long time to get there."
"Would it take us longer to get to than the park?"
"Sorry bud."


"Andrew, what would you like for Santa Claus to bring you for Christmas?"
"I don't know."
"Isn't there something that you would like?"
"I don't know."
(Insert mother impatience here.)
"Are there any kinds of toys that you would like to have?"
"I don't know."
"Do any of your friends have an ipod?"
"Would you like something like that?"
"I don't know."
(Insert sheer frustration.)
"If you had an ipod what kind of songs would you put on it?"
"I don't know."

Before I begin another question Walnut interrupts my chain of thought with, "Please stop asking me questions."

Is he 16 already? ugh

Monday, November 16, 2009

It's Beginning to Look Alot Like...(Wait It's In the 60s Today in Pittsburgh!) Christmas

I decided at the beginning of November that we would partake in the Christmas events that were offered early as not to rush and feel stressed during December. Some may call it crazy but I feel that we have truly extended the gift of Christmas. I am usually so focused on Thanksgiving right about now, but my mother-in-law is having Thanksgiving this year.

The weather this past weekend was AMAZING. It was in the 60s on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It almost felt like a spring day in the 'burgh. With that, I decided that it would be a great day to go to the Festival of Lights At Oglebay in West Virginia. Bob and I love driving through the exhibit. It is truly amazing. We especially love taking the boys. Last year, Peanut was too young to truly appreciate the awesome light display. However, this year he was pointing and ooohing and ahhing while we viewed the beautiful, bright lights featuring the Peanuts gang, a cool fisherman, tunnels and especially the dinosaurs. When Walnut saw the dinosaur display he screamed at the top of his lungs, "Look, DINOSAURS!" I was driving but went so incredibly slow so that I could look back and take photos of their eyes in wonder.

Bob and I are SOOOO ready for the holidays this year. We have purchased gifts and I have wrapped them. Bob has an ETA train date of November 21st/22nd so that the boys can maximize their time with their trains. By the way, Bob isn't really fooling anyone. We all know that the trains are just as much for him as they are for the boys. We have talked quite a bit about placement of Christmas trees and decorations and lights. We have planned our trips to dine with Santa at the Pittsburgh Zoo and in Canonsburg and to visit the Santa Trolley at the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, too. I have purchased our Christmas pajamas for the family. We are headed to Phipps to take photos amongst the beautiful flowers. Cookie exchanges and candy making activities are scheduled and recipes have been copied to hand out to friends. This year, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is the choice for our annual family and friends gathering. Other activities are in the making: Carnegie Science Center to see the trains, Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh's Light Up Night, Western PA Model Railroad Museum, shopping for Treasures for Children through Parents With A Mission to supply children with Christmas gifts, various church festivities including the Advent Dinner, a St. Nicholas Day celebration, a trip to Old Economy Village to listen to the carolers, cookie baking and hot chocolate making, a run through the lights at Hartwood Acres for charity and the list goes on...

We've already been to Kraynak's, too. I am so looking forward to sharing all of the wonderful memories with Bob and the boys.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!! It is next week, right? :)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Big Picture Scrapbooking Diva

I started scrapbooking right after Bob and I were engaged in December of 1999. I made a few simple pages for Bob for our anniversary. We still look at them every now and again. However, I truly made an ardent effort after Walnut was born. I went to Scrapbooker's Dream in McMurray and was totally hooked. I attended Friday night crops regularly and made quite a few friends along the way.

My favorite picture site is I absolutely love using big pictures on my pages as I want them to be the focus of the scrapbook page. Here are a few of my creations. Enjoy!

Sorry Environment, We Need the Magic Eraser.

This week has been eventful. Peanut climbed out of his crib and THEN Peanut decided to draw all over the kitchen island. He didn't hide. He went for it! And, continued to draw his masterpiece with a purple Crayola.

I bought a Magic Eraser many moons ago for the 'if' situation. Here it was: Peanut's first furniture masterpiece. I captured it on film but erased the hell out of it with chemicals.

Walnut-Future Architect (not George Costanza)

Walnut loves to build and build and build. He makes things all of the time. His creations often amaze me as he is a very sound spatial and tactile thinker. Here's what he made one morning before school. There is a tray in the middle so that they could eat. I am so proud of him. Way to go Walnut!

Friday, November 13, 2009

HMP: Our Covert Ops Toddler

Thursday, November 12th was like any other school year weekday for the Brothers Kocanuts. There was small diversion from the regular routine: I took the boys to school because I had parent teacher conferences. Nevertheless,Walnut and Peanut both went to school. I went to work and returned in the evening, right before bedtime.

Digression: Peanut is a horrible sleeper. WE have tried every trick in the book: crib sleeping, co-sleeping, floor sleeping, holding little Peanut, etc. You name it-WE HAVE TRIED IT. However, Peanut seemed to be turning a corner with the inception of the makeshift bed in his room. If Bob or I stayed next to him he would fall asleep. We would transfer him to the crib and, for the most part, would stay asleep until 5:30 a.m.

I arrived home at 7:50 p.m. and was greeted at the door by Walnut. He informed me that Bob was trying to put Peanut to sleep and that I was the next and only candidate for 'playing with Walnut' time. However, I heard Peanut's little voice at the top of the steps and recognized that Walnut was watching Thomas the Tank Engine and Peanut had heard the train sounds. Bob seemed a little frazzled as he was traveling the entire day and the boys were a little uncooperative. I scooped up Peanut, took care of Walnut and we selected our reading material for storytime. Walnut likes the Cordouroy books, especially the flap books.

Peanut was a bit excited to be in his big brother's bed. He was bouncing all over the place until I used the word-CRIB. Then , he listened, put his head on his pillow and fell asleep like a precious angel. We decided to let both of them sleep for a while before transferring Peanut to his crib. They were totally angelic and so cute to boot.

Bob and I watched an X-Files episode and I headed up to bed. About twenty minutes later, shrill screams from our youngest resonated throughout the top floor of our suburban home. I ran in to see what had happened. I am not sure why I always run in to see him. I know that he is manipulating me. Nevertheless, I calmed Peanut down and went back to sleep.

Peanut woke up again, same routine here. I went in to his dark room only to find him ready to get down and play. I made the decision, that dreaded decision-I was going to let him cry it out! CRY IT OUT! What was I thinking? I gently placed him in his crib, closed the door, closed the gate in his doorway and went to bed. Well, what do you suppose happened? He screamed and yelled and sobbed and wailed. I was trying to stay strong. It was difficult. I was going to be triumphant. Bob closed our door a little after approximately twenty minutes of Peanut's hysterics. Mind you: Walnut's room is right next to Peanut's movement, no awakening, nudda! Walnut was OUT!

A few moments later, I heard the screaming coming closer to me. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh! Half asleep I said to Bob, "What's happening?"

I jumped out of bed to find Peanut in front of our bedroom door and at the top of the steps!!! Peanut-in true Peanut fashion-succeeded. The main characteristic that our 18 month old possesses is sheer DETERMINATION. He will persevere at ALL costs.

Here's the play by play: 1.) Peanut took of his pajama bottoms and socks which I found in his crib. 2.) He then CLIMBED OUT OF THE CRIB onto either his toy box or rocking chair (no thud was heard). 3.) He managed to OPEN THE GATE. I had seen him trying to do this earlier that day to no avail. 4.) Tried to head downstairs until we caught him.

You may ask yourself, 'Isn't he only eighteen months old?' The answer is YES!

Bob and I both freaked out. My first reaction was sheer relief as he was not hurt. The second reaction was complete amazement. The last reaction was comparison. Walnut had NEVER tried to accomplish such a feat in his toddler years. Peanut was very angry at me as well. He would only go to his father. He was angry because I was the one who put him in the crib to cry it out. We reunited and he fell asleep with us.

Peanut is no longer sleeping in the crib. We're moving to the toddler bed. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

8 Years of Wedded Bliss and Blessings

Bob and I were married on Saturday, November 10, 2001. We met in June of 1998 and began dating in July of the same year. We met @ Giant Eagle in Cranberry while I was working on my teaching certificate and Bob was working for Edy's Ice Cream. We met, thanks to Will Neff, by chance. Casey and Carly were only eleven years old at the time. Edy's was running a promotion for the movie Godzilla. Their freezer gloves were bright purple with glow in the dark claws on them. When I saw that Will had them, I knew that I had to get a few sets for my sisters. Nevertheless, Will introduced us and the rest is history.

My mother-in-law always says that "Every pot has a lid." We are a finite illustration of the truth to this trite saying. Bob is a wonderful husband and father. When I watch him interact with our children, I am so very grateful to God that he has blessed me with such a loving and caring father for our children. He is eternally supportive of me on so many different levels. And, family is FIRST-always! Happy Anniversary, Bob. I love you.

BB Training

We spent the day @ the DAO with Mark Radcliffe from The online teachers were learning advanced applications via differentiated instruction. Bobbi V., Veronica W., Mark R., Jerry L., Kristin G., Chris H., Doug C., Bill D., Leanne Z., Terry M. and I were given the opportunity to improve our skills which translates into better learning opportunities for our students.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

1/2 Birthday Photos

Walnut turned 4.5 and Peanut turned 18 months old yesterday. Here are some photos of our little guys!


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