Thursday, April 24, 2008

Evan and the Chipmunks

We have a pet chipmunk, sort of. His name is Chippy and he lives in a hole in our front yard. Evan first met Chippy last summer at Gramma Bonnie's house. He and Gramma were having a sleepover and while he was helping her fill her bird feeders and put water in the birdbath they realized they were being watched by a little chipmunk. Evan quickly grabbed a butterfly net and they attempted to catch the chipmunk. After that, anytime we were at Gramma's house Evan would want to try to catch "Chippy" - the name they gave to him.

Evan was always so genuinely disappointed when he could not find Chippy or especially if he could find him but was unable to catch him. I tried to explain to him that unless Chippy had one foot in the grave or unless he was Bear Grylls (who could not only catch him with his bare hands but would be fed for a week off of his meat and would fashion a shelter from his pelt) Chippy would be too fast to catch.

Now Chippy lives in our yard - because in the boys' minds apparently there is only one chipmunk in the world. They have come to the conclusion that Chippy's hole tunnels from our yard to Gramma's yard - he spends his time between our two houses.
Chippy is getting quite brave. He will scamper into his hole even while we are playing in the yard. The other day he came within a few feet of Evan's feet. When the boys are eating snacks outside they will usually put a few into Chippy's hole. I don't know how he feels about pretzels and Teddy grahams, but I imagine he is pretty stoked. Last week when we had the hose out to wash the outside toys, I caught Evan with the hose shoved into the hole filling it with water. I was a little scared that might be the end of Chippy but since the little tsunami he has been back around. His hole stayed intact. Daddy keeps telling Evan that he has some special treats for Chippy that will help him get a good night sleep (Daddy is angry with Chippy and his relatives for messing with his sprinkler box). I have told him that he better just leave him alone - we have had too much fun watching him. So far he has spared the little guys life - if he keeps getting into his stuff though - Chippy better run through that tunnel to Gramma's and stay there!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Evan is crazy about Dandelions - or Dandys, as he likes to call them.

Even if I tell him they are really called DANDELIONS, he must not be listening to the correct name or just prefers to call them Dandys. It is pretty cute.

Last Thursday when I picked him up from school, the kids were walking in from the playground. A little girl had a couple of Dandelions to give to her Mom, a little boy was almost crying because there were not any left to give to his Mom (though she assured him that they would find some elsewhere and not to worry about it), then in marched Evan as proud as could be with two big handfuls. He must have ravaged the place before anyone else could get their hands on one.

Yesterday when I picked him up the scene was pretty similar. Evan again had fistfuls and some other kids had one (if they were lucky). Apparently the Dandelions are the BIG thing on the playground. It is funny how excited the little kids get over picking a weed. Of course, that is an adults point of view - to the kid's they are beautiful yellow flowers.
I thanked Evan for thinking of me and picking me such beautiful flowers. We put them in a sunny window in a shot glass for a vase. After admiring his handiwork he went outside to get me more Dandys from the neighbors yard - what a sweet little heart he has.
Photo note: It seems like my kids always have a dirty face for photos. Especially Evan. The mess on his face and hands is from the "dirt cups" (smashed Oreo cookies over pudding with a gummy worm) they had as a snack for Earth Day at school. Just pretend he got dirty picking the flowers....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My boys...

With you as my brother, the baseballs fly farther, the rocks skip forever, and the stars don't seem so far away.

I found this saying in a magazine printed on a plaque. I loved it. It was written in the past tense like you would give it to your brother after you were grown, so I tweaked it a little for my purposes. I don't know who the author is - sorry for the plagiarizing.

I remember agonizing over whether or not to send Spencer to DK. His preschool teacher told us it was never a bad thing - he would just be even more prepared when he started school. Just the stigma that went with DK stuck in my head - I don't know why DK brings to the surface feelings that your kid is inadequate. Some of the smartest people I know went to DK - and in Spencer's case, it wasn't even about academic ability. He was one of the brightest in his class, he just lacked confidence and had the little boy tendencies to squirm around and not follow directions. So long story short, he went to DK. I am SO glad that he did - the changes in him from one year to the next were monumental. He is still one of the top of his class, he has tons of friends, he is hardly shy at all anymore and his confidence has skyrocketed. DK was the best thing we ever could have done for him.

I am able to realize now another reason I am glad he is still home in the afternoons - it gives the boys time to bond and to have fun together. Evan is at the age where I feel comfortable letting him go outside with Spence to play without me having to watch their every move. That wasn't the case last year - and if Spence were in first grade this year - he would not be here to play with Evan. Yesterday they were outside together from the moment Spence stepped off the bus. They ate lunch together outside on the deck. The played pirates and Star Wars on the playset. They drove each other around in the Jeep like maniacs. They played across the street with the neighbor's dog. They had so much fun!

I don't know what the future will bring. I hope they stay close to each other. My hope is that they are always as good of friends as they are now. I truly believe that having this "extra" year together will help make that wish come true.

Photo note: How many hearts are those two gonna break? These may be the last pictures of their LONG hair - they are getting cuts today!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spencer's cat

Spencer is a cat person. He LOVES cats. He has been begging us for a cat of his own since he has been able to speak.

He has brought home many papers from school that he has done in his writing workshop time that reiterate to us his intense feelings about wanting a cat of his own. Last Wednesday when I was there helping in his classroom, his teacher was telling me how well he did with his story structure - it was about how he fed his cat and made sure his cat always had milk in its bowl. She wondered if the cat was new to our home, because he always wants to write about it. "Well that's the thing," I told her, "we don't have a cat." She laughed.

Maybe down the road we will get a cat. Right now I don't want to deal with the litter box. More specifically, Hailey digging into the litter box. For now, he will have to keep using his imagination and loving his stuffed kitties.

His latest papers that came home Friday:

I have a cat.

It rained cages. It caught my cat. My cat wasn't hurt.
(I love this one!)

The first page of this one that I didn't include says:
I say Herman. Then this page says:
And the play was over and my cat scratched me.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fun and games

On Sunday night after their baths, the boys had the option of watching the "funny show" (America's Funniest Home Videos) or picking out a game to play. They decided they wanted to play Sorry. So we all played - Evan wanted to be on his own, so that was kind of interesting. He just liked moving his guys all over and "Sorrying" people the most. Sometimes it hits me like a ton of bricks how much Spencer is growing up. I was surprised how he really understood the game and could read the cards and the actions they told him to take.

So of course the next morning the first thing out of their mouths is "Can we play Sorry?" I told them we would have to wait until after school.

Yesterday was the kind of day where you feel like you are doing a good job as a parent. Hailey had a doctor appointment and I brought Evan with me. He was a perfect kid. He just sat and played with the dinos we brought. He didn't beg for a drink of water, a trip to the bathroom or to play with the germ infested toys in the waiting room. When the doctor was examining Hays he just sat and watched and answered the doctor's questions.

When Spencer got home from school and the boys were finished with lunch, this is what I saw in the dining room. My two boys were sitting at the table playing board games together. They were not fighting. They were not being wild. They were playing games together as nice as they could be. I sort of felt like I was transported back to Little House on the Prairie days or something.

When Ev and Hailey went down for their naps, Spencer asked me if I would play Sorry with him. I told him I had to clean up the kitchen and the lunch stuff first. A bit later he asked again. First I am going to sweep and mop the gross kitchen floor. He continued to ask and I kept putting it off with laundry, bills etc. He decided to go down to the basement to play Star Wars Wii.

I got on the computer to check the email and surf around on blogs. On a blog of a blog of a blog I found this letter that a mother had written to her baby girl that had only lived 2 1/2 hours after her birth. They knew during the pregnancy that the baby would not survive - maybe not even the delivery. This letter she wrote to her baby girl was amazing, the peace that she had through the whole ordeal was awe inspiring. While reading it, I had a lump in my throat the size of a softball and tears pouring down my face. After I finished reading, Spencer walked up the stairs - "Can we play Sorry NOW?" YES! We can take a trip to the moon if that is what you want.

I hate that sometimes I am so caught up in everything around me that is everyday life that I "forget" how blessed I am. Reading that letter yesterday put a different perspective on an already good mom day. We played games. We played ball and tag outside. I saw my kids as the miracles that they are. I realized that life can turn on a dime and we have to cherish every day we have with those that we love. We have to play a game and not worry so much about the mess in the kitchen. I know my kids know I love them. I tell them about a hundred times a day and hug and kiss them so much they get tired of me on them. I want them to know how blessed I feel to have them, to know them, to watch them grow. They are amazing, and I am so lucky!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spring Break 2008 - Chicago Top Ten Photos (in no particular order)

The boys hanging out in the tropical gardens on Navy Pier. This is such a cool spot with fountains and birds flying around all jutting out into Lake Michigan so you get the view of the city on one side and the lake on the other.

The LEGO store! The boys were in LEGO heaven! The store is set up so awesome with big tray tables of LEGOs that they encourage you to play with! The back of the store has bins full of different varieties of LEGOs that you can choose from and fill a container for twelve dollars. When we were there two years ago, Spence filled one of the containers and played with his random assortment of LEGOs for months after. He created so many contraptions and ships - the best money we ever spent.

The Volcano dessert at the Rainforest Cafe. I know in this picture Spence kind of looks like he is making the gag sign, but he is really tasting the chocolate. This dessert comes out with sparklers on the top and the server yells "VOLCANO" at the top of their lungs as they bring it to your table. Spence has been talking about getting one for two years.

Chicago is a great city. It has so much to do and see, yet it still feels like you could feel at home there. I didn't feel that way when we visited New York City. That feeling could be in part due to familiarity - I have only been to NYC once and to Chicago over a dozen times.

Two of Spencer's favorite things in the world. LEGOS and STAR WARS. Could life be any better for a 6 1/2 year old boy?

Evan finally got to see some real dinosaur bones. The favorite skeleton was of Sue the T-Rex - the most complete T-Rex skeleton ever found. I think Evan realized for the first time how big the dinosaurs really were.

The boys were loving riding the elevators and escalators. We thought that stores would open at 9am and were mistaken by an hour. We spent that hour killing time by riding escalators and elevators all over Chicago Place. The boys were totally content until they started to walk up the down escalator and down the up escalator and we had to put a stop to it all.

Spencer had his first taste of Calamari - or as he preferred we call it... Squid. I can't believe when he found out what it was he wanted to eat it. He loved it! Then again, it is deep fried - what's not to love?

Things I will remember about riding the train. Evan's ability to eat an apple down to the very core - when at home he makes you cut up and peel the whole thing. When the conductor announced the stop for New Buffalo - Evan telling me to let him get on my lap to look out because he wanted to see the buffalo too. Watching the family with at least nine kids (I am not even kidding and there may have been more) and feeling as if my own brood were more than manageable. The train ride is so much smoother once you have done it and know the ropes.

Evan at the Chicago Children's Museum. He loved this exhibit called the Treehouse. It was geared toward children infant to five years old. He called it the "fake forest" and we could not get him out of there and he would beg to go back while we were at other exhibits. It was very cool.
Two other memories that I don't have photos of:
Our hotel room was very nice, new and ultra modern. The desk area they had separated from the bedroom area with a sliding door like you find in an office. The boys loved taking turns sitting at the desk being the "office guy". The morning after we were home Evan begged to get back on the train and go back to Chicago. When I asked him what he wanted to see so bad he told me he wanted to play office.
In the Field Museum interactive kid's world they had these corn stalks that you could fill with fake corn and then harvest it. At first look, you would think - Really? You couldn't think of anything better for this space? It was by far the most popular thing in the room. Our kids and about ten others were just running back and forth having the time of their lives picking corn and filling baskets, taking it in the house and repeating. I guess they know what they are doing!
It was a great trip!

LishyPoo at fifteen months

That is the latest in your enormous string of nicknames. LishyPoo - it stems from Bayloicious Licious. Don't ask where we come up with these things - why your brothers are VooveeQ and Gooeyboo - Dad and I are a special kind of insane that is all I can say to explain it.

The big happening in your fifteenth month is you are a walking little girl! You are still about 50/50 with walking and crawling, but you can do it and you look so stinking cute toddling around in that little zombie stance that new walkers have. When you walk for a long stretch your brothers will shout out in amazement "Look! HayBay is walking!" They are very proud of your new found prowess on two feet.

You don't really have any words yet. You will wave your hand and make a sort of generalized "Hi/Bye" sound which comes out something like "Haaaa". I know that you understand pretty much all of what we say to you - you just don't have the words yet to respond. You love to hold pretend phones up to your ear and have fake conversations. You crack yourself up and are amused by Dad and I and your brothers all the time and will laugh big belly laughs.

Baby food is now a thing of the past. If you see the jars come out you basically screw your face up into a "don't even try it" mode and will only take a bite through basic force. You are now on to "real" food which is both a blessing and a pain depending on the day and what we are having. I liked knowing that in the jar you got a good mix of different fruits, veggies and meats. When I have to feed you people food, I feel like you get a lot of cheese and lunch meat. You love fruits and veggies. I will open a can of peas and you will eat from it for a week. That is the no variety thing that worries me. Sometime I think what we are eating is too spicy or not kid friendly for you - but I should probably just try it because last night you ate a cheese enchilada with sauce and onion and loved every bite. The Easter bunny brought you M&M minis and you have been a fan from the first bite. You may be in the grumpiest mood ever but if you see that cute little package come out - your mood turns instantly to thrilled.

These months are just flying by my sweet girl! I see my baby disappearing before my eyes and though I am thrilled for each of your new accomplishments, it is bittersweet as I long for these days to last. I try to soak up every bit of your babyness that I can - to hold on to my baby girl - even as you are trying your hardest to grow and walk away from me. I know at this age the "away from me" is maybe around the corner or into the kitchen but before long it will be the school bus, then college. I know how short these years are. One of my favorite quotes ever (and the sad part is I don't even know who said it): Being a mother - the days are long, but the years are short. Nothing is more true.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Wawa comes to life!

It is funny how in warmer weather people start to emerge from their houses with their new additions. I will never forget how last year some of the neighbors at the far end of our street didn't even realize that we had a baby over the winter. All of a sudden there was Hailey! Our neighbor across the street came over with her new little Chihuahua -Ollie. Evan could not believe how small he was and could not stop smiling. It was like Wawa got into some magic potion.
I have been in bed with the flu since Thursday. I am starting to feel better now but still have a chest rattling cough and not one ounce of energy. I am planning on heading back to bed soon since we are leaving for Chicago early Tuesday morning and I will need all of my strength. I told Trent that he would have to push me in a wheelchair around the city. The boys are so excited - the trip is all they can talk about. It will be a blast. We are all looking forward to it.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Signs of life

Signs of Spring are emerging in our yard. I am beyond thrilled! The sun is shining. The boys are practicing t-ball in the front yard. The soccer coach called today and the first practice is scheduled. Can it be? Is Spring really here?

I love living in Michigan and enjoying all the differences of the seasons. This winter has just seemed particularly long and cold. I am sure that it is basically no different from any other winter, but we have been anxiously waiting for the day to shed our coats and feel the warmth of the sun on our faces.

One of my favorite songs is called Every Season and is so fitting of this time of year. It reminds us to find God in the little things and appreciate the changes in each season. The artist is Nichole Nordeman and she is totally amazing. My college roommate Jill, worked with Nichole in Nashville and became good friends with her - Jill has even co-written some of her songs. Her songs and melodies never cease to inspire me. I quoted part of another one of her songs, Sunrise, for my sister's wedding.

Every season

Every evening sky, an invitation
To trace the patterned stars
And early in July, a celebration
For freedom that is ours
And I notice You
In children’s games
In those who watch them from the shade
Every drop of sun is full of fun and wonder
You are summer
And even when the trees have just surrendered
To the harvest time
Forfeiting their leaves in late September
And sending us inside
Still I notice You when change begins
And I am braced for colder winds
I will offer thanks for what has been and was to come
You are autumn
And everything in time and under heaven
Finally falls asleep
Wrapped in blankets white, all creation
Shivers underneath
And still I notice you
When branches crack
And in my breath on frosted glass
Even now in death, You open doors for life to enter
You are winter
And everything that’s new has bravely surfaced
Teaching us to breathe
What was frozen through is newly purposed
Turning all things green
So it is with You
And how You make me new
With every season’s change
And so it will be
As You are re-creating me
Summer, autumn, winter, spring
- Nichole Nordeman

Welcome Spring! We are so glad you are here!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A "cabrella" for the April showers

Evan came home from school today very excited to show me the "cabrella" he made. We love the way he says umbrella and try to think of ways to make him say it. He has had a great day today. He has been in the best mood and totally cracking us up.

I got a lovely April Fool's day surprise by waking up with the illness that Spencer is still fighting to get over. His fever and aches are gone, now he just has a non-stop cough. I have the cough and the aches but so far don't feel too bad.

The boys were so excited about April Fool's Day and playing jokes on each other and Mom and Dad. Pretty much every joke included a giant spider. On your head. Behind you. Crawling on your shoulder. Evan pronounces spider like "fider" so it is especially cute. It was so funny to watch them try to "get" everybody - they were so sincere in their amusement.

Hailey has been a Klingon most of the day and didn't take an afternoon nap. I pray that she is not getting sick. She has a little runny nose but so far seems all right. One of the things she finds amusing lately is while I am carrying her to grab my glasses and whip them onto the floor. Since I have been wearing my glasses all day, she has had ample opportunities and I finally told her - Hailey, if you don't stop throwing my glasses on the floor, I am going to throw you out onto the deck! Evan looked at me and said - Mom, don't say that! You can't do that - we wuv she!

Trent stayed home from school today to help me with the kids since I was sick. Good Daddy! After he picked up Evan from school, they went to G & L to bring home lunch for us. Evan and Spence got to have root beer and they were thrilled! Later that afternoon I heard Evan talking to himself - Where's my beer? He sets things down all the time lately and then forgets where he puts them. Crazy kid! This photo is of Evan with his "beer".