Monday, December 6, 2010

Another thing on the Christmas "To Do" List

Christmas Cards! While our family pictures were taken in August, we have yet to order our Christmas cards! So, those of you on our list, don't take offense to a late-ish card. But don't worry. Shutterfly to the rescue! (This is a total Tate-ism. Everything "to the rescue")

We recently ordered some photo books from Shutterfly--a few for stocking stuffers and one for Lance's grandma. She was so thrilled with the pictures and I was thrilled with the quality and the price. We're going to order another one for my mom since she was ogling over one we had here at the house. They are definitely a big stocking stuffer hit over here. Check them out here

Calendars are also a big stocking stuffer hit. What grandparent doesn't want yet another way to show off their grandkids? Check them out here

So, we'll be looking through the cards at Shutterfly. Does anything here catch your eye?


A few friends of ours always have creative or hilarious Christmas cards. Do any of you have any great holiday card ideas? There is a certain family I'm really hoping will sport matching Hanna Andersson jammies! And another that, while I don't think you're actually trying to be funny, I always get a giggle out of the entire family (mom, dad, 4 kids) all sporting Santa hats. Ours are always more traditional, but I'm hoping one year I can do something really funny. Because with everything else on your plate during the holidays, a little laughter might be all you need.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

First Snow


I suppose I can't complain. The snow held off until December first and, other than moving back to Charlotte (where it is 66 and sunny, I might add), I can't ask for a whole lot more. And while I must say the start of snow kind of fills me with dread, there's something spectacular about Rowan and Tate waking up to the snow, Rowan exclaiming "Mommy, look outside! It's SNOW! I LOVE SNOW!" giddy with anticipation of playing, throwing snowballs, drinking hot chocolate.

So after school, what was there to do but suit up and make the most of it. Snowballs, snowmen, snow for a snack. The kids loved every minute of it. Until the minute that Tate decided to take off his socks and boots and jump on the yet-to-be dismantled trampoline. It quickly got too cold. But it was nothing that a yummy lunch couldn't cure. Rowan and Tate certainly make winter much more enjoyable.

Friends, Family and Farewell




After the weekend in the mountains, we stopped in Charlotte (for all of 3 hours) to see Trang and Mike and the kids and then went to visit Lance's grandma. While she didn't get out of bed, she was in great spirits--laughing, loving the kids, talking to everyone. She really seemed happier than I'd seen her in a while. We were pretty sure it would be the last time we would see her and we were so happy to spend time with her whille she wasn't in pain--happy, laughing, hanging up pictures the kids' drew for her. Had we known she would die today--just over a week later, I don't think we would have done anything differently (except remembered to take a picture--but it's okay, we have plenty of those).

While it's never easy to say goodbye, Grandma Liz was ready to go. She lived on her own until just a few months ago, her husband died almost 30 years ago, her friends died over the years, too. Given our past few years, it seems almost miraculous that people can live a full, long life and die at a time almost of their choosing. So we are thankful that we had so many full years with her, that she left this earth when she was ready to go and that we got to see her one more time.

Freakin' Weekend





Several years ago, while we were still living in Charlotte, Heather and Mike rented a house in the mountains for the weekend and we came up to hang out. The next year, we did it again, this time with Andrea and David, who were also in NC. Leading up to the weekend, Mike called us and played the very-popular-that-year "Freakin' Weekend" song by R. Kelly, thus starting an all-too-fun game of calling each other immediately upon hearing the song and playing the song on voice mail. The latter of the two Freakin' Weekends may or may not have included one or more of the party drinking way too much and reapting "I'm like, so what, I'm drunk" continually. Somehow, after that year, though, despite the fun, the Freakin' Weekend seemed to die as quickly as it started.

Until this year. It just so happened that we were planning a trip to go see Lance's grandma, Andrea and David had the weekend off, Heather and Mike are always up for a road trip and David's dad and Kitty were out of town, leaving the mountain house open. So, somehow, with 2 weeks notice, we all ended up (kids' included!) in Hendersonville together. While it wasn't exactly like the previous Freakin' Weekends, we did send the kids to bed at 6:30 one night and had a great dinner, we sipped wine, we stayed up way too late. The kids got to hang out with the kids of some of our best friends. We will certainly be doing this again.

5 Days




If I spent 5 days here, it would look something like this: Drive to and from school and music class, go to the library, play outside, read some books, make dinner, hope family eats dinner, clean up. Rinse. Repeat.

5 days in New York City, though, kidfree I must add? Completely different. Staying at a swanky hotel sipping spendy drinks at the bar (The ONLY perk of Lance's insane travel schedule this year)? Check. Taking in 2 shows (In the Heights--superb--and Elf--okay)? Check. Eating delicious food (no cleaning up, cutting up or worrying about what children will eat at the Venezuelan restaurant)? Check. Watching the marathon, shopping, Letterman, Tom's Restaurant (we couldn't resist Seinfeld's fave diner), Statue of Liberty, a photo op with Meredith at the Today Show, trekking around town with friends, staying out way too late? Check, check, check. The trip was wonderful.

Here on the homefront, all I can say is, well, everyone survived. The kids were happy. My mom was exhausted. My favorite piece of furniture (the rustic green trunk) is broken past the point of repair, my mom forgot what time Rowan's school ended and took a guess--she was a full 30 minutes late, the kids ate S'mores for breakfast. But, they had fun, too. They went to the Children's Museum, the library, the mall. They made happy memories and I think my mom might even be up for it again--maybe not right away--but eventually. It was good for all of us.

Friday, November 12, 2010

My Little Boy


Tate,

When I went away for 5 days (the longest I've ever been away from you), I expected a few things. I expected to be stressed out, I expected to miss you like crazy, I expected a few tears on your end as well. I did NOT expect to come home, walk into your room the next morning and discover that my baby had, magically, become a little boy. I know it didn't happen in 5 days. I know that you're 2 and a half (and you make sure no one forgets about that half), that you're potty-trained, that you sleep in a big boy bed. But in my mind, I was holding onto that picture of you just a little bit younger. You aren't a baby anymore, not even a toddler, but a little boy. My little boy. The sweetest one I know. I'm so lucky to be your mommy.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Happy Halloween!!




What a perfect night for trick-or-treating. Not overly cold. No rain. Still light out when we left the house. Lots of friends. Lots of fun. Lots of candy. An impromptu playdate with Lucy while I was lured in by the adult treat of hot spiced wine. My little Sleeping Beauty and Harley rider were adorable, remembering to say "thank you", hiding behind me if anyone scary walked by, happily eating their Skittles (Rowan) and Nerds (Tate) at the end of the night.

The next day Rowan said "So, we did our trick-or-treating yesterday, but Grandma is handing out candy at her house today." "Yes," I said, "our city did trick-or-treating a day early." "Sooooo," Rowan said, the wheels turning, "We could go to Grandma's today and go trick-or-treating!" It didn't happen. But I was pretty impressed she thought of it.

Zoo Goes Boo!




With Lance working 4 weekends in a row, his decision to take a vacation day was a good one. So we took full advantage and took the kids to Zoo Goes Boo. Sort of a crazy, crowded mess, but they loved it and it was a good kick-off to Halloween. They went with the animal-themed costumes (which was great since it was a cold day). And even though Lance's "vacation day" ended with him in the office for 4 hours, we made the most of it!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Art Prize

While "kicking and screaming" might be a bit harsh, I will say I wasn't extremely excited about moving here. I was going to be leaving great friends, amazing weather and a pretty great city to move to Michigan, where thankfully I already had some great friends, but the weather and the city weren't really beckoning. Since living here, though, I've found that Grand Rapids is actually a really great place to be. There's virtually no traffic and there are some amazing places and events that Charlotte does not have. Art Prize is one of these great events. I remember walking around Grand Rapids last year, pushing a double stroller loaded with tons of treats and feeling completely awestruck at the amazing art all around. This year was no different--except the kids were a little more aware and interactive with the art. We went twice. I was hoping to squeeze in one more visit, but I can't complain. These pictures are some of the art--not my favorite pieces--but with the the sheer quantity of great art, I only took a few pictures. I just couldn't get it all. We loved it and will love it every year.




School!


Really? It's mid-October and I haven't even written a single post about school? Well, let's be honest here, I haven't really been writing many posts at all lately. For no reason other than sheer laziness.

Well, even though I was worried for a good portion of the summer that maybe I should have put Rowan in afternoon preschool or wondering if she would feel lonely without her best friend from last year (who is in a different class), school could not be going any better for Rowan. She is loving it. Loving her friends, loving the Spanish, loving her teachers.

One friend in particular, Tatum, is talked about quite constantly here at home. We'll be scheduling a playdate soon.

And with this amazingly gorgeous, wish-I-could-just-bottle-it-up weather, we've been staying after school every day to play on the playground. Sometimes kids from her class stay and play. Sometimes kids from the other classes stay. We're loving being out in the sun, spending time with friends.

For the Birds

Birds aren't really my thing. That might be putting it a bit lightly. There was once a bird in our house in Charlotte and I called Lance at work. The incident ended with me donning a hat, sunglasses and heavy coat and using an umbrella as a shield. Even then I couldn't handle entering the room with the bird. I got it out, somehow, and it made for a funny story to tell at dinner parties.

The fear has gotten somewhat better, but as you can see in the picture of Rowan with a bird on her head, I stayed in the budgee cage long enough to take a few pictures, but exited to a much safer place to take the picture of Rowan. Thankfully Lance doesn't share this fear (though I have killed a spider or two for him) and he and the kids had a marvolous time with the budgee sticks at the zoo.



Sunday, September 19, 2010

A few of my favorite things

Crane's Orchard--Every year we head to Crane's for apple picking, donuts and cidersicles. Every year we take pictures. Except this year when my camera was left at home. Some shots I wish I had taken: Lance holding the children up ridiculously high so they could pick the highest apples they could see, Tate peeking out from the middle of the apple tree, Rowan's big grin when the cidersicles came out after eating dinner.

Night Time--This is a time I love and dread at the same time. The dread comes mainly from Tate's inability to get to sleep, stay asleep and wake at a reasonable hour (in my mind, 5:30 is unreasonable). But the cuddles at bedtime can't be beat, Rowan snuggled up in her bed, cozy as could be in her footie pajamas, telling me she loves me, asking unanswerable questions (Mommy, will you be in heaven when I get there? Will we eat in heaven or will we just never be hungry? Do you love me more than you love anyone else?). Tate, snuggled in his big boy bed, looking so tiny in such a big bed, begging for more hugs and kisses, yelling "I. LOVE. YOU. MOMMY." over and over until I reply and, only then, can he quiet down and go to sleep. The fact that I told him "I love you" several times as I put him in his bed doesn't seem to matter. It's the extra one after I close the door. Peeking in at their sweet, little selves after a long day and seeing only innocence.

Jokes without a punchline--Last night, at 10:08pm, Rowan marched into our room and said "Knock, knock." I looked up from my book "Who's there?" "Thumbkin," she said. Thumbkin who?" "Thumbkin Pagumpkin!" She laughs hysterically which, in turn, makes us laugh hysterically, which makes her think she has just made up a really, really funny joke. We heard it approximately 36 more times today.

Fall--Fall has always been my favorite season, but I'll admit, maybe it's the teacher in me, though more likely it's just my love of the sun, summer has taken the place of fall as my top season in my adult life. But I still love fall. I love the cooler weather (though I hate the allergies that come with it), I love the fresh smells, all the pumpkin and apple peeking through in yummy recipes, I love the running around at the park, in the neighborhood, on our bikes without overheating and needing water breaks, I love the new colors outside, the crunch of the leaves. Instead of seeing fall as the impending doom of winter, I'm going to try to enjoy every moment of it.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Aiming High

Proof that "You can be anything you want when you grow up" is taken quite literally around here:

Me, to the children: "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
Tate: "A CD."
Me: "Well, you can't actually change into something completely different. I was really just wondering what job you might like to have."
Tate, somewhat exasperated: "I said I want to be a CD!"
Rowan: "Oh, Mom, just let him try."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

National Ice Cream Day



This is my kind of day. Of course ice cream deserves a national holiday. So we celebrated by making ziploc baggie ice cream-vanilla for Rowan and strawberry for Tate. Yum!

When the Kids are Bored

Rowan and Tate are always making up very odd games--things to do while they are bored, basically. I love it when this entails playing an actual board game, coloring or even playing with play-doh. And while I shouldn't fault them for being, well, creative, I guess, I'm just not exactly sure what this is.
video

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Potty-Training 101

Disclaimer: If you are bothered by the word "poop", hearing about poop or giving poop a name, please, do not read on.

I'm not sure what sparked it, but I decided to go ahead and try to potty-train Tate. I thought, well, it's summer. He can run around naked and not freeze. Let's go ahead and potty-train. Here's a run-down of the week.

Day 1: Spectacular. No accidents. Easy peasy. I thought "Wow, that was easy. I didn't even do anything." (Note to self: When a very regular 2-year-old doesn't poop all day, something's not quite right).

Day 2: Irrational fear of pooping on the actual toilet begins. Poops on kitchen floor.

Day 3: Saves up poop for naptime when he's still in a diaper. Better than the floor. Less clean-up for Mom!

Day 4: No poop. Yeah! Another accident-free day!

Day 5: Poops in underwear. Three times. Holding it in yesterday made for a rough day today. Yikes.

Day 6: Lance is home! A little rest for the weary here. We rationalize, we bribe, we beg. Tate will not poop on the potty. After pooping in his underwear, Lance sets him on the potty and a tiny little pea-sized poop drops in the toilet. I'm certain this was just sitting there, ready to fall, and not a result of any sort of effort on Tate's part. Regardless, the celebrating begins. Tate gets a gumball, the bribe we had been dangling in front of him. He's pretty darn proud of himself.

Day 7: Tate poops on the toilet. 8 times. Seriously, 8. He has taken to naming his poop. "Oh, look, it's a little wormy. This one is a snail. Look at the turtle in there!" Of course, he gets 8 gumballs for the day. Each poop is approximately the size of said gumballs.

Day 8: More frequent pooping. More gumballs. Seriously this kid is going to be the only 2-year-old with hemorrhoids.

Day 9: A bit of Day 8, plus a naptime surprise. We'll see what happens the rest of the day.

Synopsis: Well, he is doing better than I expected. It was like he was immediately potty-trained in one area. Just not sure what to do to discourage the amount of pooping going on over here. I think we'll be running out of gumballs very soon...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fireworks Flops




Since I have no desire to keep the children up late, only to have them stressed out at the noise of the fireworks, we attempted to at least let them partake in a few little things at home--sparklers and snakes. There were no flames shooting into the air, no loud noises to upset Rowan; it should've been cake.

But, alas, I did not plan for Rowan putting her fingers directly onto the sparker immediately after dancing with it. One sparkler total. Three blisters from burns on her fingers. A little brother too scared to try.

So, we tried the snakes. We lit them at the end of the driveway and watched as the huge "snake" came out of the little wrapper. The kids were, at best, unimpressed. Rowan (while nursing her fingers in a cup of ice water) said "So, you light it and then it just looks like poop?"

There you have it.

I Hope They Stay This Way Forever



Sure, there are moments, hours, even full days that Rowan and Tate do not really like each other. They fight. They hit. Tate actually spit on Rowan today; I didn't even know he knew how to spit. But, for the most part, they are best friends. They understand each other, they play with each other, they make up riciculous games, they say they're going to get married someday. Yesterday, after Rowan finished up a time-out and Tate opened her door, she yelled "We're together again! We're together again!" and they both started laughing and dancing. I couldn't help but laugh along with them. Since I don't have a particularly close relationship with my brother, I'm not sure that I really know how to teach sibling camaraderie. I just desperately wish that they will be close forever. I wish I could just wrap up all this love and pull it out when they get older, when it seems siblings either drift apart or drift together. I hope that, even though they may have completely different personalities, beliefs and affinities, they will always love and respect each other. I hope they will have one of those amazing sibling relationships that I'm always a bit envious of.

Binder Park Zoo





After the slight disappointment with the balloon festival on Friday night, we were so excited about how much fun we had at the zoo on Saturday. The kids loved everything, from feeding the goats to feeding the giraffes. It was a great day with the kids, my mom and the animals.

On the way home, we stopped by a parade in Allegan where the kids loaded up on candy. We knew the 4th wouldn't be complete without a parade and they were not disappointed. We even took the dogs with us and they sat, relatively calmly, even with all the chaos of a parade.

The Waiting Game





Here we are, waiting in Battle Creek for the hot air balloon launch. It was supposed to start at 6:30. We got there around 6, had a picnic, read books, walked around, played "The Waiting Game", met some guinea pigs that some little girls brought along. We waited. And waited. And left. I'm still not sure if the balloons actually launched that night at all. But we had fun anyway. Rowan is still talking about the guinea pigs and they completely forgot about the balloons. We may try it again next year.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bye-bye, Butterflies



Since Rowan had become pretty attached to her butterflies, I was more than a little concerned about releasing them outside. We talked about it ahead of time. She was sad. She knew, all along, that the plan was to put them in their natural habitat, but as the day grew closer, she seemed more and more upset about it. So, I did the easiest thing I could think of. I made sugary, colorful butterfly cookies that we could only eat after releasing the butterflies. It was the perfect solution. Her favorite part of the butterfly lesson was releasing the butterflies--which, of course, meant eating the cookies.
video

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Happy Father's Day



Last year I dressed the kids up in Lance's clothes and took a picture of them. So, I'm making it a tradition. A rather odd one, I suppose, but the kids love it. They picked out their own clothes (can you tell?) and posed for the picture. Rowan also wrote the cutest book ever for Lance--one that will most certainly be put into the little box of things I actually keep and plan on keeping forever. It's all about why she loves her daddy.

We had a low-key day, went cherry picking and just before we were going to leave to go out to dinner, Tate got sick. So, we altered our plans and stayed in. I have to say I'm pretty thankful for a great husband who is such a wonderful dad to our kids, who really embraces what it is to be a dad, who makes the kids feel extra-special all the time, who rushes to me with towels after I've been thrown up on, who is fine with eating pizza for dinner on Father's Day instead of a nice dinner out (of course it helps when it's goat cheese and pine nut pizza--our fave) and who gets a little teary-eyed when Rowan reads her book to him.

It's my fifth (!) Father's Day without my dad and the first I've managed to not cry. I'm sure part of that is because we skipped the church service and didn't have to sing sappy dad songs, part of it is because I know my dad would want me to cherish this day (and every other day, too) and part of it is because I'm able to sit back and enjoy life's blessings with Lance.

Cherry Picking

For Father's Day, Lance wanted to go cherry picking. Never mind that he doesn't actually like fruit, cherries included, this is what he wanted to do. So we went. We picked lots of cherries. Obviously a few ended up on Rowan's shirt. And this is a very random video of her afterward. I'm not sure what that dance is, but she's clearly excited about the disaster she made of her shirt.
video

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Last Day of Ballet


6 weeks flew by and Rowan's last day of her little ballet class was last night. She chose to wear a fancy dress from her dress-up bin and is doing a little curtsy in this picture. She LOVED ballet and we will be signing her up again and again, I think.

Butterflies are Blooming






I decided to get Lily a butterfly kit for her birthday and went ahead and ordered one for Rowan, too. The caterpillars came in the mail about a week ago and, as you can tell, she was pretty excited. We decided to keep a butterfly journal as we watch them grow and change. I'm letting her complete it with invented spelling
(which I love) and we're checking on our little "pets" every day.

Day 1 of her journal reads: Today the Painted Ladies look like cadpilrs (caterpillars). Their colors were black. They were about (less than) 1" long. They were: 1 is moviig, 4 r slepig (1 is moving, 4 are sleeping).

She has since named her caterpillars: Anu (Anna), Lideu (Lydia), Avu (Ava), Case (Cassie)and Dorau (Dora) and they are now becoming pupa and making their chrysalides. I think it's so cute how she writes all of the names (except Cassie, of course) ending in a u because "U says 'uh', Mommy".

Tate's liking this little project, too, since he loves all bugs and all things nature. I think I can see a few little lightning bugs flying around outside and I'm pretty sure we'll have to keep the kids up late one night (since it doesn't get dark until around 10) so they can catch them, put them in their little bug jars and then let them go.