Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Waiting Game

  We're a few days out from baby boy's due date, and we've been filling our time with various distractions. I've been nesting (I really had no idea the power of pine sol), Mark's been readying his desk at work, Jackson has been jumping off walls (or at least anything with a pushback force), and Allie has been much more creative.

When we venture outside, she rotates between her tricycle, pushing a large dumptruck, or pulling this firetruck. All of which go about 1/4 the speed of Jackson on his little 2 wheeler. She helps us remember we're in no rush to get anywhere.

She's really been developing her artistic talents, with lots of coloring and singing all day long. I LOVE love her little songs she sings, at least until they reach the fortissimo level. She really does have a nice crescendo.


She's exploring some new areas of power--climbing in and out of her crib, throwing royal tantrums, refusing to do things when asked--but I think we just need to get her a drum like this. She returned to it at least 10 times, each time confidently pulsing a really nice beat. I think it could help her with her two-year-old power needs.

By far, her funniest new favorite past time is her little obsession with cleaning her toes (at least once a day). Socks come off, toe jam comes out.

I can't wait to show her all of baby boy's fuzzy toe jam that comes with those itty bitty new born socks! She's going to be one skilled big sister.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Jackson has learned how to snap. The eureka moments have lasted for at least 2 weeks, and it's adorable. He has now moved on almost completely to working on whistling. He tells me about all his friends his age and if they can whistle, and is even spreading rumors about some of the parents and their abilities. I have a calm assurance he won't have problems acquiring the skill, since Mark's family can do 4 part harmony as a whistling choir (as long as they can keep from laughing).
Allie has snapped into better pronunciation and more complex explaining skills (finally!!). Starting last week, we can understand 50% more of what she says, and often in the car, she'll use other devices to explain herself (she was trying to tell me about a bird, and finally said "tweet tweet"). This has given me great hope in our ability to communicate once "brother baby coming out belly mommy" (Allie has inquired numerous times if that time is here--so cute).

And speaking of baby brother, we are 2 1/2 weeks till the official due date. Time has snapped itself away from me so quickly. We are trying to attack everything that still needs to be done (like figuring out where kids are going (!), and deciding when to buy a van). But having 2 other kiddos screaming, running and jumping all day long sure places them in priority, and we're still having a snapping good time everyday--despite baby brother's painful side effects on my muscles.

We've been...

Going to parks (even barefooted today!) before winter snaps in

Enjoying baths where all the kids fit in the same tub

 Carving our pumpkins 

 (From left, Jackson's scary face, Allie's doodles, Mark's Jackolantern, and my 5 little pumpkins)

Feeding the squirrels 

Seriously, these squirrels on the east coast.... 
EVERY SINGLE PUMPKIN (and there were 8 originally)

Deciding on Halloween costumes at the very last min

(FYI, it is a giraffe costume--not sure where we got it, but I'm sure that it looks more like 
Mr. Tumnus from Narnia than a giraffe. Thankfully she wore so we could at least stick with a theme. Important details you know!)

And of course eating the bounty collected by these cute animals

(Side note: apparently Allie doesn't like chocolate, unless it's chocolate ice cream. We're all a bit confused, since I distinctly remember her eating chocolate before she was 2. Poor thing gets a bit frustrated when all the candy she anticipates with great excitement turns out to be stuff "I no like.")

We're hoping baby brother's arrival is snappy, but not too snappy and happens to occur at the perfect moment for all parties involved. Whatever ends up happening, he's got a big brother who is excited to teach him all about snapping, and a sister who can talk. Whew!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Black Fish

It took a while to decide what we're doing for halloween costumes this year. Jackson was pretty set on being Spiderman with a Batman cape and a fireman hat. As excited as I was to make his dreams come true, I thought I'd try and direct those dreams a bit. We brainstormed some ideas of what he and Allie could be together, and we finally determined we'd go for an animal theme. He came up with the idea of an orca. Brilliant! He loves killer whales. We've read every book at the library 10 times... at least.

SO, how to find a costume. Um... the only one I liked was sold through an Indian company, that had no online shipping option. The other ones that were fine (but not amazing) were 40$-50$, and I didn't like that much. So, we/I decided to make it. The question was, should we go with an orca he was riding, or make him into an orca. Riding the orca was a nice idea but I couldn't find foam that was affordable enough to create one, or the right size pool toy. I did find a bunch of black fabric in my sewing box, and we had an XXL white T-shirt.

Some sketches later (after much online perusing),

 And way too many late nights,

AND swearing I won't ever sew another costume from scratch (without a pattern)

We got ourself a little killer whale!

 This is pre-last stitching of the tail, and I'm totally critiquing it like crazy thinking how to help the tail out.

But since it's a Halloween costume (and will likely only be seen in the dark)--and not a costume for a broadway play, we're glad it's done, and it was as cheap as a spool of black thread. And if any poor mother (or Father) out there finds this post and wants to know how we put it together, just comment and I will tell you all of our joys and woes.

To celebrate the last stitch tonight, Mark and I watched Black Fish. I'm so glad our little captive fish is only 40 lbs ;)

Allie? What is she going to be? She has 4 options, and we'll find out if she is willing to be any of them. (As of yet, she hasn't tried a single costume on.) "I don't like it" is all we hear. Ah, good thing dreeing up for Halloween is not part of our eternal salvation.

Happy Halloween!!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Playing with Words

Now that we've been in school for a good month, we've been schooling ourselves by playing with words.

 (our pathetic, 1s day of school picture)

Jackson is at a familiar stage with words, and has entered the little boy land of substitutions. I have a feeling it lasts for a while. We are thrilled that his word of choice for most substitutions is "cookie(s)"-- he uses it in place of everything from traintracks to amens.

"Humpty dumpty sat on his COOKIES! HA HA HA"
"Tell Grandma I went to a... cookie patch!"
"I'm going to go build a.... cookie train cookie!"

Although it may be somewhat irreverent, really annoying and super old, we're thrilled it hasn't fully morphed in to the other choices he has experimented with. Last week we he said "butt" and looked at me for a reaction. I nearly died laughing. I assume he heard it at school, but since it's pretty low on the foul language spectrum we talked about how he's welcome to use the word, but it may make some people feel sad, and... most of the time it's not appropriate to use. This week he's been adding "poo" into his usual cookie mix. I'm sure it's developmentally helpful, but I'm also sure we'll be dealing with all forms of "poo" talk for years to come.

Jackson and his friends have also been playing with nicknames. They call each other all sorts of nonsense words and die laughing, or act as if nothing happened. I've always wondered how nicknames start... and I suppose now I understand.

Allie's word play is much more rudimentary, and frustrating for all involved in the translation process. [We're excited for her pronunciation to clear up since she seems to have all sorts of interesting things she'd really like us to know about!] She points and repeats herself verbatim, and we somehow muddle through except while in the car, which is where she is quite the chatter box. 

Thankfully, there are a few patterns she regularly follows that aid us in translation:

-If Jackson tells us anything with excitement and detail, Allie repeats what he said in some fashion. This is the best situation, because we already know what she is trying to say--so we can repeat it easily and don't have to try and make her satisfied with a "oh really?" [aka we have no clue what you're saying!].

-We get a repeated question multiple times a day inquiring where daddy is.

A: Where daddy going?

S: He went to work.

A: Work?

S: Yes Work.

Repeated, meaning at least 5 times throughout the day. Sometimes, if I ask her back, she'll say "wook"--but not always.

-She is constantly asking "wha da?" (what's that?) Generally it's more of a "who's that?" But, she seems satisfied as long as I don't say "I don't know"--so I often have to use general terms like "a boy" to get by her curious mind.
-The last clue we get is if she is singing. This doesn't happen often, but I can usually match her tunes she wants to sing, or pick up on the rhythm of what nursery rhyme she's trying to get me to say. For an early childhood music teacher, these are wonderful moments I'm thrilled to muddle through translating! Especially when she's willing to conduct with a "pehdi"--pencil:

 Hopefully we shall continue to play and learn with words--and get this girl talking!

Thursday, September 25, 2014


I love this little capture of our day. I assure you 70% of our day is not nearly as happy and constructive as this. But that 30% is so fun and makes Motherhood completely fulfilling! Let's keep this up.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Destination: Music City

Nashville is quite the destination--especially if you're a cowboy boot lovin' bachelorette, or a country music lover, or apparently if you're a young family of 4.

We took a trip to music city over labor day to visit Mark's cousin Ben [and family], and we planned it to coincide with Jenny and Spencer visiting also. All family members thoroughly enjoyed the vacation, though we were all glad to not have to make too many more 10 hour car trips this year. It took a lot of screens to get through the screams that came from the back seat :)

(A sample of the art created on some form of ip____. I'd say it's ready for the Freer Gallery)

Highlights of our trip:

-We ate the most amazing southern cooking any of us had every experienced in our life. Arnold's Country Kitchen is only open for weekday lunches, so we left mid afternoon Thu, so we could make it by noon on Friday. Totally worth it. Allie was the only one who didn't find it appetizing. Apparently she was holding out for the 5 consecutive meals of hotdogs that were to come. But the rest of us cleared our "meat and 3 [sides]," and wished it had been open on the weekend.

 Ya, the cooked food didn't look that amazing (to me either), but HOLY COW, it tasted like savory heaven.

 -Cutest babies. Baby Isla Annavee and baby Anna Vee are a month apart, and both way too cute to not kiss. Jackson did a good job trying to keep them entertained in route and in house. I don't blame him--they were totally irresistible.  

 -Grand Ole Opry (with Jenny and Spencer). And if you've never heard of it, it's a super famous country variety show--not an opera. Our show featured an 86 year old woman who had plenty of wit and pizazz, and started yodeling in the middle of her song. Um... floored.

Huge shout out to Ben and Amy who braved putting 4 kids and a dog to bed in a one bedroom apartment. We're not quite sure how all but the adult humans were sleeping when we got there.

-Speaking of maximizing small spaces, we utilized the back bench of our RAV4, stuffing the kids back there, so we could enjoy it's full 7 seat potential. It worked so well, we temporarily considered forgetting the mini-van plan of the future. Too bad Jackson's legs are going to grow--a problem considering the negative space they occupied.

-We twice took advantage of this awesome spray pad right across from downtown Nashville. We also tried out 3 different hotel/apartment pools. We certainly got our money's worth at every place we stayed.

-And Allie took good advantage of her new buddies Jenny and Spencer. She stole their stroller and hands as often as they would let her. 

 What a fun trip with fun people and next time... we'll fly.

P.S.  We hauled the train tracks and blocks with us, so Jackson could have some playtime--hotel lobby's make fantastic play areas while little sister's are sleeping. That was also worth it--though wouldn't have made the cut had we flown...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Two is definitely not 1

 This girl turned the big 2 last week.

She didn't quite remember what to do with the candles, 

But, she instinctively knew what 2-year-olds do. Literally on her birthday, her vocabulary increased 10 fold, she was able to pedal her little tricycle 3 enormous blocks, and her tantrums took on a whole new level. 

In addition to her skills acquired on her birthday, she has mastered the art of squirt guns, 

Straightened out her run, (though still maintains the flailing arms)

 And continues to hone her jockey skills at every park.


 She also attended her first tea party with her bosom buddy Miss T, who also happens to be having a big 2 birthday. Their composure is quite stunning--I realize they are 2, but seriously!? Grandma Elna would have been proud.

 Oh how we love this personality-filled cutie. Bring on the terrific 2s!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Language Acquisition

We are acquiring language in multiple facets of our home right now. Jackson in the print department, Allie in the linguists department, and all of us in the etiquette department.

Jackson is mastering sounds of letters. Just today, I asked him what whale started with and we made a huge leap when he remembered "wah wah" starts with a "w" not a "y!!" This was especially exciting because so many of my first grade students struggled with that when I was a teacher... the "w" sound definitely doesn't make sense, it just has to be remembered (right up there with "y" itself, and "h" and "x" and.... oh the English language.)

Jackson made this awesome sign for Mark (after he was out of town for Brennan's funeral). The best part is his slow reading of it. I'm not sure how much is real, and how much is just slowed speech mimicking, but either are great skills to have when trying to get this print to word thing down. He'll look up and point saying "Wwww-eeee-ll-c--ah-mmmm ...."

 (He was SO proud of how many lines he put on his E. I think I will miss the many-lined-E stage--
so cute!)
 Allie is surprising us daily with new words she has figured out how to pronounce (in her own special way). She uses a great combination of hand gestures and sounds that are somewhat relevant to the word, to get her points across. The spectacle is effective 80% of the time--half of the time amusing, and the other half annoying as she screams and increases her volume. The 20% of the time that we don't understand is quite frustrating for all parties, especially since she won't buy the "Oh really?" response anymore. [Sigh]

Her articulation is rough for us to decipher, let alone other humans. She's starting a little joy school class in September--so we'll see if anyone else can interpret. If Jackson was available, we'd send him as a translator since he confidently tells us exactly what she is trying to say quite often--sometimes he's correct, and sometimes not, but the confidence is assuring to both of them.
To aid her clarity and language we've been trying to wean her from the binky.

The weekend was a little rough, so I caved in a ton, hence why I yelled to Mark to cut the tips of the little things right before bedtime last night. Mark was not thrilled to be given this task last minuet. Allie took it in decent stride (almost following exactly what Jackson did when his were cut) but Jackson was very upset about the whole thing. He had tears in his eyes as I went to put everyone back in bed last night. "But mom, how can we fix her binky? What about the new baby? How will he have a binky?" Oh it was hilarious and sweet.  Allie was perplexed by it most of the day, checking on them and making sure they were still "boke"--but I feel like she seemed like a more carefree person. Perhaps that bink was tying her down. Hopefully it allows her language to fly free.

Allie does have most of her body parts and animal sounds down, which serve as great distractions whenever we need one. I took this video last week, and she definitely doesn't get most of these questions as she mimics the last word of every question, but she is getting better every day, and mimicking is stepping us toward better articulation... a good place to be!

Oh my goodness. I love how she eats toast!

 With all the acquiring of language, we are still working hard to acquire nice language. Don't these kids just look amazing in this picture? I was grateful for my awesome helpers this weekend, but I must say we are working hard on not being rude (to each other and strangers).

I'm thinking I should have Jackson make some banners that say "Please" and "Thank you" and we can put them around the house to practice reading them (slowly). If Jackson did it, it would likely rub off on Allie which may eventually create more opportunities to remember saying them--for all of us.  Hmmm... this language stuff could be a good thing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Memorable Whirlwind Part 2: Beautiful Waves

I have a distinct memory from a few years ago, of looking in the mirror and seeing my sister. I was looking at myself, but I understood why everyone thought we looked alike, and I felt like I understood her differently.

                    (seriously can't pinpoint a feature... but goodness, there's a likeness between us gals!)

We went to Portland and had an amazing time eating, playing and enjoying sunshine (!) with only slightly tired kids, but the highlight for me was singing a song in church--accapella--with both of my sisters. The sensation of having 3 very different voices converge in waves of unity was overwhelmingly powerful--especially because I had a hard time pulling my own voice out as I joined these sisterly waves. Also, and more poignantly because it was the first time we had ever sung together.

I received two packets of emotion today. We were emotionally shocked to learn of a close family member who died of cancer last night. She battled hard for a year and a half, and her body succumbed. Just after learning of her death, I opened an email from my Dad that had his pictures from our trip to Portland. The sense of gratitude for family completely enveloped my tears as I reflected on Brennan's death. I am mentally and prayerfully sending waves of family unity and spirit to her husband and two young boys. I picture ocean waves of love enveloping them in this dark hour and the future hours that will come soon.

We experienced many waves on our trip to the Northwest and I'm most certainly grateful for the wave of family love, but it's also fun to reflect on the others we experienced.

The ocean waves were beautiful but best enjoyed from the sandy shore, especially with Grandpa and his big shovel

Allie had her many "halloh" waves---sometimes spontaneous, sometimes inspired, but always cute

Jackson had his many mood waves--he's still a 0 to Armageddon type of kid, you never know if he'll be squealing for joy, screaming from an instant wave of anger, or if he'll be completely apathetic

(Luckily Grandparents love him through all the waves, though new mamma Lindsey may be a bit scared for her future)

(Notice all the wardrobe waves that occurred with the 50-90 degree weather that blessed us while there)

  Lily bug accepted waves of kisses and slept in waves

She didn't enjoy the hair waves that Allie did,

and could only dream of the many food waves she'll enjoy with her cousins in the future

                     (Salt and Straw ice cream)                            (Oregon strawberry jam)

But we all enjoyed the waves of beauty that crept up with stunning acuteness

Thank you Dad, for taking and sending the photographic art through digital waves (or whatever the internet travel via)--what a whirlwind of beautiful waves.