Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sweet Sully

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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sullivan Jack





October 1, 2012.  7 pounds 10 ounces, 20.5 inches of adorableness.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

There She Goes

Rowan left for school Tuesday morning--all excited for her new teacher, new friends, new school supplies.  I had this song by Sixpence None the Richer stuck in my head all morning:

There she goes
There she goes again
Racing through my brain
And I just can't contain
This feeling that remains

I remember when that band played a concert at Hope College--they were a young, one-hit wonder and I'm pretty sure they weren't singing about sending their daughter off to school.  But the lyrics still kind of describe how I feel.  She was "going" again--away, somewhere, without me.  It's been happening more and more lately.  I haven't been accompanying her on playdates in quite a while.  She's had soccer practice and gymnastics and tennis camp all without me.  She's gaining independence, forming her own opinions, making her own choices.

The feeling that remains, though, is a little harder to pinpoint.  I definitely miss her during parts of the day.  Yesterday Tate and I went to Holland to go to the farmer's market, visit Lance at work and go to my doctor's appointment (where the scale is now over 150, thanks to the yummy summer treats and this big baby who we'll meet in less than 4 weeks!!).  She would have loved to go and I felt a twinge of guilt that Tate and I were out having fun without her.  Tate misses her even more than I do.  He's woken up each day excited to play with his sister and we have to explain that she's going to school and he says "Again?  All day, every day?  Really?" and he wants to wait by the front window for the bus to bring her home.  But, of course, when she does come home, she's tired.  She's already had a long day, she's hungry (because she chose to talk with friends instead of eating her lunch), she's not really in a mood to do much of anything other than have a snack and relax a bit.  She's fighting going to soccer practice (which makes me really thankful I didn't let her sign up for anything else in the fall).  But I'm still excited for her new adventure.  I'm hopeful that she'll mature a bit, that she'll be challenged and rise to the occasion of a challenge, that she'll make some lasting friendships and make good choices even if I'm not there to encourage her.

In a little while, Tate and I will make our way to the sidewalk to wait for Rowan to get off the bus.  We'll be all ready to hear about her day while we snack on watermelon on the front porch.  And her almost 8 hours away from us will be condensed into 5 minutes, if we're lucky.







Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Perfect Summer

Somehow summer is almost over.  Tate had his preschool open house last night and Rowan had her first-grade open house tonight.  Both saw their classrooms, met their teachers and got thoroughly excited about school starting.  Both children have started their fall soccer leagues. We've gone back-to-school shopping and stocked up on clothes and school supplies.   But I'm still trying to hold on to this summer.

Somehow, despite the extreme heat and ever-growing belly, we managed to have a perfectly fabulous summer.  We spent a ridiculous amount of time at the pool (at which I took no pictures), played with neighborhood friends constantly (again, no pictures), went on a few short trips with the kids: one to the Detroit-ish area to see friends and stay in a hotel where my kids get to eat things like Fruit Loops for breakfast and think it's the best thing ever and one to Chicago for the zoo and Legoland.  We had cousins stay with us for a week and went to the zoo and Meijer Gardens and to visit the McGowan's at their cottage.  We saw fireworks, did sparklers, went to fun parties in the neighborhood, saw friends from school and even had a few lazy days at home.  We had swim lessons and tennis camp.  We picked lots of strawberries from our garden and made jam and strawberry shortcake and ate strawberries by the handful.  Now we're picking tons of cherry tomatoes from our garden and Tate and I are devouring them "freshly washed", as he calls them.   While I've been horrible about taking the time to right down all of our fun and memories of this summer, I have still been so grateful for this summer--our last as a family of four.

A few reasons I'm dreading the start of the school year:  1.  The exhaustion that will surely come with first grade.  And the attitude that will certainly go along with it.  A certain little girl who somehow already has quite the pre-teen little attitude becomes less and less pleasant when tired.  2.  A bored little buddy.  With Tate at preschool all of 5 hours a week, he's going to be completely lost without his sister to entertain him, facilitate all kinds of imaginative play and come up with crazy ideas to fill the time.  And I will be expected to fill that role.  I can see it now.  He'll want to play games, he'll want me to tell stories, he'll want to do puzzles and he'll want entertainment all day.  I love spending time with this little man, but I have no idea how this will all work with another little guy demanding my attention.  I predict a tough transition.  3.  Missing my girl.  With school all day, soccer practice once a week, soccer games once a week and Wednesday night church programs, it really will seem like I never get to see her.

A few reasons I'm looking forward to fall:  1.  a schedule.  We haven't really been following a schedule of any shape or form this summer.  While I had plans of doing schoolwork with the kids, having more purposeful playtime and having concrete plans for each day, that really never happened.  I think a good schedule and consistent bedtime will benefit all ofo us.  2.  fall.  Changing leaves, cooler weather, apple picking (if the crazy weather didn't destroy them all)  3.  no longer being pregnant.  4.  a new baby.  Who will he look like?  What will he be like?  What will we name him???

I recently read a portion of the book One Thousand Gifts and started keeping a gratitude journal where I jot down a few great things that happened that day.  Here are a few of my recent favorites:  a perfectly roasted marshmallow; Rowan requesting to read the baby his very first book--and going through the bookshelves to pick the perfect one;  stroking Tate's back when I tuck him in at night.  And this one, which is more of a story:  After describing different types of college degrees and different jobs people need different degrees for, Tate says "I want to know what one I need to become a knight."  Love these kids.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

12 Years

Some days it seems like life is on fast forward.  How can it possibly be that Lance and I have been married for 12 years already?  Wasn't it way more recently that he first asked me on a date (at Parrot's, of course.  Not the date.  The ask.  The actual date, which turned into two, was at JP's and then the comedy club at the BOB--fitting for us, I think).

It's funny how people can change over a 12-year span.  I was once a completely carefree person who thought nothing of packing up and studying abroad alone,  went skydiving and bungee jumping with friends and had virtually every night packed with some sort of social event.  Lance pretty much lived in Adidas, played soccer constantly and never imagined himself working in an office.  His favorite breakfast was Reese's Puffs cereal.  Our earlier days of marriage were spent watching Seinfeld reruns, playing old school video games, going out to eat more often than not (or, quite often, eating in front of the television).  We traveled, spent lots of time with friends, went to shows, got dressed up.  I rarely made the bed, often had piles of laundry to do, never spent time researching the best vacuum cleaners.

As time passed, I have turned into more of a worrier, more of a planner, more of a "mom", I guess.  Things require planning, there are schedules involved, my decisions are now family decisions.  Lance sports a suit and tie way more often than his soccer clothes.  We never eat meals in front of the television (unless you count the ice cream after the kids are in bed), we travel less, go to shows less frequently and still spend lots of time with friends.  I make our bed every day, do laundry every day and use that well-researched vacuum constantly.  Lance can't stand the thought of Reese's Puffs cereal.

In our marriage, we have lived in 2 apartments, 3 houses, 2 states, 3 cities.  We have owned 8 cars, had 3 pets (though our sweet newt, Stanwell, wasn't around for too long).  We have seen the highest highs (the birth of our two completely amazing children and the anticipation of another) and been through complete heartache at the loss of all of our surviving grandparents, my dad and Lance's mom.  There are days when we adore each other and days when we kind of can't stand being around each other.

We spent the morning taking the kids to a parade and are spending the evening eating, playing and watching fireworks at a neighbor's house.  And it seems kind of fitting that we'd spend the day like that.  Generally our days pretty much revolve around the kids, whether we're celebrating something or not.  We can't wait to have a more "official" celebration next weekend when we'll head to Traverse City and Glen Arbor--we'll eat lots of yummy food, maybe do some hiking and kayaking, stay out late, knowing that our kids are at my mom's house and we don't need to get home to the sitter.  But, for today, our celebration is more of a celebration of our little family.  Of where we started, where we are now, where we will be.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Tooth Fairy

Rowan had been wiggling the tooth for a while, willing it to come out before the end of kindergarten, though it wasn't quite loose enough yet.  I was also hoping it would come out soon, too, as long as I didn't have to pull it out.  Lance literally got queasy at the thought of pulling out the tooth and, while I gave it a few half-hearted pulls, I was kind of hoping it would just fall out on its own.

And it did.  In a way.  Enter Luke, energetic cousin here for the week.  A few good jumps on the trampoline, Luke's knee making contact with Rowan's mouth, and excited kids running in, Rowan holding her tooth.

Rowan's reaction was funny.  She had been waiting and waiting to lose her very first tooth, but when it happened, she said "I wanted the tooth to come out, but not quite yet.  I don't think I was quite ready yet."  But then she got excited about the tooth fairy and what she might find under her pillow and she got over the fact that her mouth was bleeding a little.

She was even more excited when Trang sent a picture of Nathan, Rowan's best friend from Charlotte, who lost the same tooth (also his first one) on the same day as Rowan.

 Trying to show off her new gap!
Rowan with Luke and her Tooth Fairy earnings the next morning

Now, almost 2 weeks later, her new tooth is poking through.  Last night Rowan said "Look, Mommy.  I have an adult tooth coming in.  That means I'm almost an adult."  Don't rush things, Sweetie.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

First-Grader

I remember the day kindergarten began.  I made you a special breakfast, took pictures, wrote a special note for your snacks and lunch and drove you to school, excited to be able to stay with you for the first hour or so of the day.  I watched you walk confidently in, despite not knowing a single soul in your class.  I held back the tears as your teacher walked you outside for recess and the parents gathered in the library to ask questions.

When you rode the bus home that day, Tate and I were waiting for you with special pink cupcakes.  We both could not wait for you to come home, to tell us all about what you did all day long.  We heard about a new friend or two and the snacks you got at school.  But most of the day was yours--not something you shared with us.

And that's kind of how the year was.  You started becoming your own little person in kindergarten.  You were gone from 8-4, two or three days a week--riding the bus, going to school, eating meals, making friends--all without me.  You came home, telling me a few small tidbits about your day.  Maybe later I'd overhear you singing a song you learned in music class or on the playground.  You did come home singing Justin Beiber, as I imagined you would, as well as Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, but you still remained pretty innocent.  You always came home with a smile on your face and, while you seemed to love school, you cannot wait for summer break.

I was lucky enough to help in your classroom a few hours every Thursday.  You were always extra excited those mornings when you left for school, knowing that in just over an hour, I'd be in your room. I actually met all of the kids I had heard about, saw your teacher in action, watched you work in the classroom.  You and your classmates all gave me hugs before I left.  You gave me extra hugs and a kiss.  I wonder how much longer you'll be excited for me to come see you at school.  And how long I have until any hugs and kisses will be reserved for home--not something to be seen in front of your friends.

You just had your 6-year-checkup with Dr. D.  You're now 43.5 inches tall and 39 pounds.  Despite being "a lightweight", as he called you, you're right on track for a 6-year-old.  Reading, riding a bike, having your very first "wiggly tooth".

I woke up in the middle of the night, awake for no reason as usual, and peeked in on you, sound asleep in your huge queen bed.  Bethany had tucked you in for the night while we were on a date night and I checked on you before I went to sleep, but I wanted to see you once more.  You kicked off your covers during the night and were tangled up in your pink sheets.  You were wearing your pajama shirt backward--a mistake you probably won't make too many more times.  Your room was littered with giant pieces of paper (many of which are written love notes to your baby brother), baby dolls and a few stuffed animals.  Your nightstand was completely full--a stack of books, Polly Pockets, Kleenex and stickers piled on top.  Your last night as a kindergartener.

Today you woke up to cinnamon roll pancakes, put on your already chosen graduation clothes, tolerated a few pictures and climbed onto the bus for the last time for quite a few months.  You sang in front of a crowd at graduation, even though you later told me you were nervous.  You were smiling the whole time.  We stopped by the farmer's market afterward where you picked out a huge basket of sugar peas and helped choose some plants for the garden--mixed greens, tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower and brussels sprouts (which, along with the tomatoes, I'm certain you won't eat).  We ate lunch and spent the rest of the day celebrating graduation with Lily and Alayna at Susan's cottage.  We had a fabulous day.

You now enter the summer phase.  When people ask what grade you're in and your not entirely sure what to say--"I just finished kindergarten" or "I'll be in first grade" or just a confident "first", knowing that you've left kindergarten behind and have moved on whether you are in school or not.  I asked you some things you'd like to do over the summer and, like me, you pretty much plan on spending lots of time at the pool, seeing some friends and cousins, going to the beach and having some fun summer picnics.  I cannot wait to spend the summer with you.

 First Day of Kindergarten
 Last Day of Kindergarten
 Rowan with Mrs. Phillips
Rowan, Sydney and Emma having some graduation fun

Thursday, May 31, 2012

It's a Boy!

After some deliberation, Lance and I decided to find out the gender of the baby this time.  Rowan and Tate were quite literally begging to find out and, while I typically don't go for the whole begging thing, they won this time.  I scheduled my ultrasound on a day neither child had school and we made it a family affair.  When the tech told us it's definitely a boy, I stole a glance at Rowan and she didn't even look particularly disappointed, despite the fact that she had been pretty outspoken about wanting a girl. And since finding out, about a week and a half ago, she has been talking to her baby brother, making him cards and wondering about names.  The only time I heard even a hint of disappointment was when she said "I'm excited it's a boy, but if it was a girl I would have been so excited I wouldn't even be able to sleep."  Tate, of course, is thrilled he's going to have a baby brother and already is asking if they can share a room.  To which Rowan says "No, I want to share a room with the baby."  To which I say to both of them, "No, you're all going to have your own rooms."

Our family is starting to get pretty excited about another little boy joining us soon.  And Lance and I are struggling to come up with a name we both agree on (shocking, I know).  Dare I even mention that before we found out the gender, he was telling me how he really likes the name Penny.  Penny Pellow?  Can you see my eyes rolling right now?  
 A cake the kids made with Bethany (the babysitter) when Lance and I were on a date night.  Bethany said Rowan drew out the design on some paper and was very specific about what she wanted.
Proud big brother and sister
video
Some silly kids making the announcement

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Kindergarten Fun

Lance was lucky (or maybe the correct word here is brave) enough to get the day off to take Rowan and her class to Binder Park Zoo for a field trip.  This included about 3 hours riding on a bus with lots of small children.  MadLibs only go so far when not too many children know the difference between a noun, verb and adjective.  But, he and Rowan had a great day of Daddy-daughter bonding.  

 Rowan and Kate on the bus

 Emma, Kate, Rowan and Sydney 
Feeding the mommy and baby giraffes

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Soccer

I think Lance and I always imagined our kids would play soccer.  Not that they'd necessarily be good players, but that with Lance's soccer background and my enjoyment (though not particularly strong skill) of the sport, it might be something have a bit of a natural affinity for.

Rowan decided to play soccer this year--spring and fall--and Lance was her coach.  To say the season was rough might be a bit too kind.  They never won.  In fact, I think they were only close to winning once.  While we don't keep official score, I'd imagine today's was somewhere in the ballpark of 0-20.  Last week the other team was kind enough to make sure we knew the score.  0-18.  (I wanted to tell the coach since the girls' soccer skills were clearly well-honed, it might do him some good to spend a practice on sportsmanship.  Alas, I kept my mouth closed).  Lance was frustrated.  Rowan was a pretty good sport.  And became quite a good loser--not too upset about it (possibly because she was thrilled at the prospect of an after-game snack), which I think is a life-lesson everyone needs to learn.  So might as well get that out of the way early.

Regardless of the less-than-stellar record, The Silver Bullets had fun, got some exercise and met new friends, which is really what it should be about for 5 and 6-year olds.

 During the last game.  Note the amazing skill exhibited by Rowan here.
 Post-game high-fives
Post-game snacks

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Graduate

This week, Tate finished his first year of preschool.  He had fun with Miss Jenny and his friends (especially Landon), loved doing gymnastics at school and loved his favorite part of the day--snack time.  He was looking ever so handsome in his Superman bow tie and was cute as could be singing songs (loudly enough for us to actually hear him) and walking up to get his certificate from Miss Jenny.  Our little buddy is growing up.


 It's showtime
Tate and Landon
Earning his certificate    

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Happiest Place on Earth

When we found out that Baby Pellow #3 would be joining our family, Lance and I decided that we needed to take Rowan and Tate to Disney World now, while they are still young enough for it to feel magical, but before we have a baby to tote along.  We researched, talked to friends and made a plan.  A 9-day trip that would consist of 3 Disney days and maybe a day at Legoland.  And then the airline we were flying went bankrupt.  And our plans came to a bit of a halt.  Many phone calls, lots of figuring out alternate vacation dates for Lance, and the trip was rescheduled.  A 5.5-day trip that would now only include 2 Disney days and maybe a Legoland day was planned.

And the vacation was perfect.  We would have all loved to stay longer.  But I think that's for the best.  It's always best to leave when everyone is still having an amazing time.  If you wait until people are cranky, tired and generally just over it, you come home with those less-than-ideal memories mixed in with the great ones.

We ended up spending one entire day at Magic Kingdom (from just after open until close) and also one entire day at Hollywood Studios.  Both kids agree that Magic Kingdom was better--lots more to do, more rides, etc. but both parks were great for our kids.  They met so many characters, rode tons of rides and never had to wait in line more than 20 minutes or so.

A few highlights from Magic Kingdom--the rides--both kids preferred rides that provided a bit of an adrenaline rush (so It's A Small World was fun, but the spinning teacups were much better), the characters, the light parade (Tate was so adorable during this) and the fireworks (I think watching Rowan watch the fireworks was my favorite part of the day).

A few highlights from Hollywood Studios--Rowan was picked as the special princess during the Beauty and the Beast show and she got to walk up and get a hug from Belle and the prince handed her a rose, The Toy Story ride (this was my favorite--a fun one that an expectant mom can ride) and watching the kids in the Jedi training school (this was more hysterical than anything else).  Both kids also loved spending a little too much time in the arcade of Pizza Planet.

Instead of Legoland, we took the kids to a hands-on farm where they got to hold baby ducks and chicks, catch a chicken, feed pigs and milk a cow.  It was a nice change of pace from theme park craziness.  And we did plenty of swimming in the pools and picnicking outside.










None of us were ready to come back to reality and we all have nothing but wonderful memories of a fabulous vacation.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rowan, Age 6

Since Rowan went ahead and turned SIX a week ago, I should probably write something down to remember just what Rowan was all about on the day she turned six.

Her favorite color is still hot pink, but right around her birthday she decided to tell me that light blue is her favorite color. I'm not sure what spurred this idea--if a friend's favorite color is light blue, if she just decided she loves that color, if she heard me talking about paint colors for her new room--but she seems to be holding strong that she still loves hot pink, but she loves light blue even more.

The week before Rowan's birthday, I took her to a ballet. She was slightly confused as to how adults can do ballet in the middle of the day and not go to work. When she found out that dancing is their work, she was thrilled. "You mean they actually make money dancing? Mom, that would be the perfect job for me!" So, yes, she wants to be a ballerina when she grows up. Or a "singer on a CD". She has decided that, instead of gymnastics, she'd really rather take dance class.

Rowan is a social butterfly. More than anything, she wants to play with other kids. Now that the weather is nice, as soon as she gets home from school she'll ask to play with friends. "Mom, Caleb and Josie are out. Can I go play?" "Mom, I talked to Zoe on the bus and she wants to come over today. Can she?" "Mom, I see Grace down the street. Can we walk over there?" On her days of no school, we definitely have to have a plan.

While Rowan and Tate fight with the best of them, they are also great friends. And this year Rowan has gotten so much better at compromising, sharing and caring about Tate. Generally, if there is an argument, Rowan is the one who will let Tate have the first turn or let Tate choose the story we read. Sometimes while I'm making dinner she'll sit on the couch and read a book to Tate. And they'll often play for hours with little direction from me.

Rowan's imagination amazes me. She makes up games and scenarios to act out pretty much constantly. She and Tate love to play Jake and the Neverland Pirates. She also plays "Monkey Island" on the trampoline outside and makes up games for the kids in the neighborhood to play. And, of course, it doesn't get any better than being the baby in a rousing game of house. All of these situations make me glad Rowan has Tate. I'm up for reading books, making crafts, doing activities around town, but I'm pretty deficient in the whole imaginative play arena.

Rowan, I love that you are maturing, but still are such a kid. You don't care about what you wear or what your hair looks like. You are friends with everyone. You chose Rice Krispie Treats for your birthday snack because even the kids with food allergies can eat them. You have so much enthusiasm about life in general. You have a memory that amazes me. You still let me cuddle up with you to read books (and I'm planning on this lasting a long, long time, so you better keep it up a while). You put on silly shows for me--dancing in the dark with glow sticks, acting like a chimp swinging from the bar on our swingset, singing songs with Tate in the front yard. You are my favorite little six-year-old and I love you very much.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Super Fix-It

Tate napped the entire way home from Great Wolf Lodge today. Which made for a peaceful car ride, but a little boy who was wide awake a bedtime. After coming down several times to check out what's going on with Mom and Dad, we heard him coming down the steps. Lance went to see him and he was standing on the landing, hands on his hips and said so enthusiastically, "Dad, I already have super powers!" He went on to tell Lance all about a singing birthday card that had run out of batteries and how he was able to make is work by magic. Lance renamed him "Super Fix-It" and he continued striking his best super hero pose. It seriously doesn't get much better than this.

Great Wolf Lodge






For the past week or so, Michigan has seen the most amazing weather--80 degree days, picnics in the park, lots of neighborhood fun. So when our Great Wolf Lodge trip was right in the middle of this summery weather, I was a bit disappointed at the thought of being inside for 2 days.

Thankfully I was pleasantly surprised. We had a fabulous time. The kids had fun the whole time we were there, they were relatively well-behaved the whole time, Lance was a super-champ dad (and Tate was a Daddy's boy all weekend, which is not so typical for him). The McGowan family also went and we had a great time together. Lance and I couldn't ask for a more fun weekend.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tate, Age 4

Since we've gone ahead and had the 4-year-checkup, I guess it's pretty official that Tate is 4. Never mind that both the actual birthday and the party were last week. I was trying to keep him 3 as long as I could. Thankfully, though he was worried he would wake up too big to cuddle, he is still just the right size and loves it just as much (even if that "right size" is all of the 11th %ile). His teacher adores him and told us at his conference how he's such a great listener and he's so smart (I kept reminding myself not to compare my children--and will clearly need that reminder over and over and over.) He wants to be a superhero when he grows up. He loves all things orange. Like his sister, he wants me to make up stories to tell him every single time we set foot in the car. He cried and cried after his shots, but a lollipop cheered him right up. He would read books, color and build blocks all day long. And sometimes he does. He always shares with his sister. He found a quarter on the ground the other day and used it to buy candy out of a vending machine and share with his friends. I have honestly never seen any kid that excited about anything. Yep, that's kind of all it takes to make him happy.

Of course he has a naughty side that makes an occasional appearance. A tantrum here or there. A rough day. Waking up in the middle of the night pretty much every night. But this kid has me wrapped around his little finger. (Friends, with boys like this, I can sort of understand how one can become a crazy mother-in-law. DO NOT let this be me!)

I'm so lucky to have a little boy who turned out so much like his daddy.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Super Tate
























For his fourth birthday, Tate insisted on a super hero party. I wasn't really planning a party for him, actually. I was kind of thinking our trip to Great Wolf Lodge in a few weeks would suffice and I didn't think he would really think about a party ahead of time, but he surprised me by telling me all about his plans for a superhero party. An orange cake with some green on it. Lots of friends--mostly boys. Superhero games. I figured I might as well go with it. So I started planning. With 16 children coming over, I knew I needed a plan and my first was to split the kids into two groups. One downstairs doing quiet activities (coloring, tattoo station, puzzles) and one upstairs doing the superhero training academy--retrieving kryptonite from the batcave (finding a glowstick in a makeshift cave of blankets) then locking it in a lead box, stomping out the villains (popping balloons), leaping over tall buildings in a single bound (jumping over a dollhouse), rescuing the baby from the burning building, etc. Once they graduated from the training academy, each child earned a superhero cape which was a big hit.

It was a great time celebrating with my little guy and his friends.

For an amazing post about a super-hero party (and virtually all of my inspiration for this one), go to http://emilys-little-world.blogspot.com/2011/12/superhero-party.html