Thursday, December 4, 2008

Christmas Season

I am trying something new with the kids this Christmas season, in light of reading various blogs and talking with friends (thanks, Marjie!). I am trying to celebrate Advent.

Growing up, we did not generally have an advent calendar or do any activities associated with advent. I think we once had one of those boxes with the cut-outs that has chocolates behind each date...but I could be wrong. Anyway, I thought it sounded like fun, and after reading the different things people were doing with it, I thought, "hey, I can do that!"

We aren't doing anything fancy, and we're not giving gifts like some do for advent. That would have required more than that the 1.5 hours of planning that went into this project. I kept it simple, just making one small activity or fun thing each day...a little something for the kids to look forward to and a concentrated effort to spend time as a family.

Since we started yesterday, December 3, I labeled slips of paper that I stapled shut starting with "3" and ending at "25" when Christmas arrives. The little slips of paper are in a very un-fancy cookie tin on our table, but next year I hope to take more than a couple of hours from my school day for planning and actually wrap things and activity explanation in little boxes. It just wasn't happenin' this year.

Here is our list...if you see Connor, keep it quiet! Every day is a surprise. Grant totally doesn't get it, but will get in on some of the fun with us.

December 3
Watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and make a Christmas Chain

December 4
Wrap Gifts for teachers to put under the tree and gifts from the Gingerbread Shoppe

December 5
Get picked up from Kindergarten—no Kids’ Country in the afternoon…then have a sleepover at Grandma’s!

December 6
Go See Christmas In the Park

December 7
Watch a Christmas movie and eat popcorn

December 8
Pick out a gift to give off the Angel Tree at Wal-Mart

December 9
Craft: Create Christmas cards for your teachers

December 10
Read Christmas stories

December 11
Make Christmas cookies for sharing

December 12
Go see Christmas lights

December 13
Go see Mr. Stinky Feet’s Christmas concert at Crown Center

December 14
Bake blueberry loaves for your teachers, wrap them up to take
the next day

December 15
Watch “I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown” on TV

December 16
Bake Christmas cookies for sharing

December 17
Deliver Christmas cookies

December 18
Camp out in front of the Christmas tree and read Jesus’ Christmas story

December 19
Mom and Dad celebrate being married for 10 years! Special dinner

December 20
Trip to McDonald’s!

December 21
Go see Christmas lights

December 22
Sleepover at Grandma’s

December 23
Family game night

December 24
To Aunt Marsha’s to celebrate Christmas eve…you may open one of your gifts

December 25
Breakfast at Grandma Pam’s for Christmas day, spend the afternoon at Grandma Gayle’s

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Overheard, by my older cousin, during our big Italian-cookie making fest, which, shockingly, I attend much less for the cookies (try to contain your amazement) than for the socialization with my aunts and cousins.

Connor was sitting at a table eating lunch with my cousins's kids who are all about 5-7 years older than him.

"Guys, I need to talk to you about something."

"What is it, Connor?"

"Guys, I need to know WHY my mom's baby has to be a GIRL?!?"

The explanation from my cousin's 12 year old daughter that God wanted our family to have a little girl was sufficient for him, but he isn't accepting this without a fight.

More on baby

So I was going to post sonogram pictures of baby girl, but decided against it, as most of the pictures are just confirming her gender. And someday she won't like that her goods were all over the blogosphere.

If you know me, you know that I have a little trouble when there is nothing in my life to worry about. It's true. If there's nothing to worry about, I will invent something to obsess over. Thus my obsession over whether or not I am actually having a girl and not another boy.

So it should come as no surprise that after the sonogram we had on that Friday, I started to have doubts.
Serious doubts.

How good was the sonographer? Had she REALLY looked hard? She could have missed something. And the angle of the picture that I had was not too convincing.

I had my dr. appt this past Tuesday and I expressed the concerns above. Namely that

My doctor understands how reasonable I am and invited me in for a "freebie" sonogram the next morning to CONFIRM what the sonographer says. She apparently has more faith in the sonographer in her office than I do.
So, hello, I was there bright and early Wednesday morning for more pics of what I hoped would continue to be baby girl.

I caught a little flack from the sonographer (have you noticed, I am trying to see how many times I can work the word "sonographer" into this post!) for not fully believing her the first time.

She just doesn't understand though. I NEVER thought I'd be able to have a little girl. Oh, I wanted one, but Jeff comes from a long line of boys-only families!
There are a couple of stray girls in there, which gave me a bit of hope, but it seemed to good to be true!

I hopped up on the table and we got down to the business of looking for girl parts. THIS time I am sure, the sonographer looked up, down, around, (baby girl was pretty active!) and found no extras! Hurray!

Now I can confidently buy pink, and Jeff can wallow in his fears of being a permissive father who can't say no to his little girl and her wedding. Yes, he's already worried about that.
I think I get the better end of this deal!

Monday, November 24, 2008

It's A....


To say we were surprised would be quite the understatement. I made the sonographer look, look again, then look some more. I am still having a hard time believing it, but I have no reason to think otherwise.
I will post more on reactions when I (hopefully) put the sonogram pictures on here...but the general reaction was over-the-top excitement, but Marjie beat them all. She made me feel like I'd just won the gazillion dollar lottery with her ecstatic screams. Of course, this is way better than some stinking lottery.
We truly are blessed. Three healthy children...and we get to experience raising both boys and a girl. Thank you, Lord, for our life!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kisses Make It Better

Grant always has been a slightly more affectionate child than his older brother. Jeff and I have attributed that to Connor being more "prickly" like me, while Grant is more outgoing and physical, like Jeff. Grant will hug me for no reason and kisses are available on demand.

I have noticed in recent weeks a trend with Grant.

Every time he bumps into something or thinks he is hurt, he comes running to me for a kiss. I will then kiss said owie (which has only posed a problem once--when he hurt his bottom), ask him if it's all better, and he replies "yes!" and runs back to playing.

I love this age and stage.
Yes, we sometimes (though less frequently now) have dinner battles, I have to provide him a choice about everything including which shoe he would like to put on first, and he can get whiny.

But he still believes that his parents can fix anything. And that is special.

I still remember being sad the first time Connor told me that my kiss didn't make his owie feel better.

I just hope Grant doesn't realize it for a while yet.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Connor's take on Baby 3

One of Connor's after-school teachers pulled me aside the other day and told me about a funny conversation she had with Connor.
She prefaced it by saying that Connor is usually very subdued and quiet in the after-school program and generally doesn't talk much to the grownups.

She was talking with him about our family and if we were going to have another baby ever (I suspect b/c they've noticed my expanding waistline and got curious!) and Connor immediately piped up:
"Yes and we find out what it is in TWO WEEKS!"

She then asked him if he wanted a boy or a girl.

Connor replied, "I want a boy."

Teacher: "Why?"

"Because if we have a girl, we're going to have to take her to ballet and stuff. Yuck."


Here at our house, we're on a countdown. Ok, it's just me. No one else seems nearly as concerned as I am with the possibly life-altering information we will find out next week.

I might be a touch on the over-dramatic side on this.

Next Friday, we find out what our baby is. Of course, this is depending on baby's cooperation, I've been told. I am leaving nothing to chance, and having a big caffeinated drink before we go for our sonogram. That kid is gonna be hyped up and moving so we can see the parts!

Everyone here is rooting for a boy. Except for mom of course. It would be really nice to have someone on my side (besides the dog, who is also a girl). The boys spend most of their time with Jeff arguing about who gets to be on his "team" for various activities.
We were in the car the other day, and I kid you not, the kids were screaming at each other over who got to be on dad's team. We weren't playing a game, we weren't even TALKING about playing a game, but by golly, they were each going to be on dad's team!!

I would like for someone to want to be on MY team once in a while. Not that a girl necessarily would. And boys are great...truly. I've always said I'd take a house full of boys over a house full of girls any day, and I mean that.

I just kinda want to buy pink this time.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Festivities

And here they are, the all-important costume pictures!
Getting the boys to smile naturally (Connor has inherited my fake-camera-smile) was quite the challenge, but I did manage just one with my little peace-nik.

I REALLY thought we were going to have trouble getting stubborn little Grant to wear his costume, but he surprised me! He was excited to put the costume on. Now, the cape? That required a little trickery from Dad. Grant did not want to put it on...until he was told that "Daddy wants to wear it" and Daddy put it on. Hmmm...all of a sudden it held more appeal. I was able to wrestle it from Jeff (who occasionally dreams of being as superhero!) to complete Grant's costume.

Before it was dark, we stopped out at my parents' house. It was Friday night and still daylight savings time, so it was nice to show off the costumes and get some goodies early.

Connor worked all night on getting the perfect "mean pirate" face. I think this was his best effort.

Connor may have been being a rocker pirate. Not really sure, but he was having fun!

This was the first house the boys went to trick or treat at, next door to my parents'. I WISH I'd had my camera ready when the lady came to the door. Grant's expression was pure terror...until she offered him candy.

See, I think this "mean pirate" is pretty good too. He really just got better as the night wore on. Even occasionally saying "Trick or Treat" in his "mean pirate" voice.

Earlier in the day, before he was overcome with the spirit of being a pirate, Connor had a much more angelic look about him. I surprised him by showing up at his Kindergarten Halloween parade. It was really cute, seeing all of the kids in their costumes. I was, however, reminded that I want nothing to do with teaching elementary school. While I was waiting for Connor's class another Kindergarten class was using the bathroom. As they came out, they were standing in line. One of the boys came out of the bathroom and announced to the teacher, "I got pee on my costume."
Yuck. Um, I might have kept that to myself.

The day after Halloween, the Zoo hosted a "Pumpkin Smash" day which in theory is much more exciting than in reality.
This was the highlight of the day for the boys.

We did take some time out between watching the kangaroos and tigers eat pumpkins to visit the Baobob tree playhouse.

Grant, while waiting for the Kangaroos to get their pumpkins. It was all quite disappointing. The zookeeper just tossed pieces of pumpkins at the kangaroos and they either sat there and got hit or grabbed a piece and started eating. Not too exciting. Actually, the tigers were pretty cool, puncturing the pumpkin with his teeth.

Overall, Halloween 2008 was fun. It was great that Grant was more "into" it this year and worked very hard to keep up with big brother.
They got oodles and gobs of really good candy...seriously, our neighbors didn't go cheap at all this year, I am used to a bucket full of smarties and tootsie rolls. No, these kids got the real deal, chocolate candy bars, reese's cups...good stuff!

It was a great weekend though Sunday, when whatever respiratory ailment the boys had last week finally caught up to Jeff and me. We spent the majority of the day woefully lamenting our inability to breathe from one nostril or the other.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


If you haven't heard Grant say the word "Delicious" you really should give him something yummy. He has been saying it all the time with (almost) everything he eats.


Try it, it will bring a smile to your face.

Pumpkin Patch

Note: My camera ran out of batteries, and I had planned to put in new batteries before we left and forgot. I only got two pictures....neither of which involves any pumpkins!

We finally made it to our yearly trip to the Pumpkin patch...only we tried something new this year. See, in the past, we've been able to go to the local 'patch and have a good ol' time without paying the high ($8+, yikes!) price of admission. Connor is a very reasonable child and understands that if we have a talk beforehand about what we will and won't do, that is just the way it's going to be.
Completely reasonable.
Not so reasonable. He IS only two, plus has a little shall I say...forcefulness to his personality!

So, me being the cheapskate that I am decided I was NOT going to shell out $30+ just for admission to the pumpkin patch--that doesn't even COUNT the pumpkins! I looked online for "Free pumpkin patches in Kansas City."
And I found one!

It is located in Sibley, MO, which is north of Grain Valley. Not too bad of a hike if there isn't a 10-mile backup on 1-70 where you literally sit still for 20 minutes only to see NO ROAD CONSTRUCTION ahead (though the signs warn you it is coming!) So we did what any reasonable person would do. We drove in the lane that was apparently "coming to an end" all the way to our exit.
Whew. I am glad Jeff was driving. I am just not that brave.
So, we made it to Sibley, which is a lovely little town.

Jeff and I always think we want to move to a small town, it looks so quaint, so carefree. They probably have jobs and life too, though.

Anyway, the pumpkin patch was great. There was a cool orchard store where they sold apples, jams, frozen berries, and apple cider. Let me tell you--I think apple cider is gross--this stuff is G-O-O-O-D!
We went on a little tractor ride out to the "patch" which was a little sparse. I am thinking we went a little too late in the season. All of the big pumpkins were "mashed" according to the boys. Fortunately, there was also a big section of small "pie" pumpkins and there were lots of great little ones to choose from. We took 5 home because I was all set to try to make my own pumpkin butter.
What can I say, sometimes I feel like a farm girl. Next thing ya know, I'll be churning my own butter.
We got some good-looking apples, some cider, and those pumpkins, but then had to be on our way. It was past nap time for someone. Oh, and Grant too.

On our way home we were watching the rolling farmland and the cool old farm houses, and Jeff said, "You really would like to live in the country, huh? I've converted you!"
I said, "Yeah, that would be great, we could have 4 dogs..."
Grant, excitedly from the backseat: "FOUR DOGS!"
Jeff: "and maybe a cow?"
Me: "Nah, it's too much trouble to milk it every day and night."
Jeff: "Really?"
Me: "Ok, we can get a cow, but I want to hire someone else to milk it."

Ah yes, I think I am still a ways off from living the farm life.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Out of the Mouth of Babes

We were seated at the dinner table last night eating dessert.
If you've ever heard Jeff clap, tap, or do anything percussionistic with his hands, you know that he is loud.

Jeff was tapping the table, singing a little song. Fairly quiet for Jeff, actually.

Grant seemed to be concentrating with the focus of a 2-year old eating his ice cream while Jeff was tapping. Then he stopped, looked at Jeff and said:

"Dad, please stop that! You are driving us CRAZY!"
It took all we had not to bust out laughing.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Chicago Marathon...done!

Jeff had his biggest race ever this past weekend--the Chicago Marathon. He left on Saturday and returned yesterday to many hugs and squeals (and barks from Trumie!)
He brought all sorts of great loot from his goodie bag for the kids--they loved it!

He had gone with the original intent of qualifying for Boston. He needed a 3:15 to do that. Unfortunately, he realized about halfway in that he wasn't going to be able to make that. And he did something I'm proud of him for. He slowed down and enjoyed the race.
He ran through Chinatown, through the Mexican part of town (I don't know the name!) and gave high-fives to all of the kids he passed that wanted one.
He still landed with a 3:30. Not too bad for someone that decided to slow down and "enjoy" the race, huh?

I wish I could have been there. I wanted to go, but days off of work are precious and few around here and we didn't think I could spare any. Fortunately, his big brother Steve went along for company...and they had a great time from what I understand.

We're glad to have you home, Jeff. We're proud of all you've accomplished, with or without Boston!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Monday night, we had a treat. We hardly ever get Chinese food at our house, but we all like it and it was sounding pretty good since I had office hours that evening and didn't want to cook. Our favorite place, Master Wok, has moved and is too far away for carryout anymore, so we went with Connor's choice for Chinese food--Hy-Vee.
It's actually a pretty good deal and we can just barely feed our family on their "dinner for two" so we save some money.

I think one of the kids' favorite things about getting Chinese is, of course, the chopsticks! Grant was very into holding them at the grocery store, and mispronouncing the word...I kept thinking he was saying "hospital."
He did, indeed know what chopsticks were and what they are for, as he ate his dinner by poking pieces of chicken with his stick.
Except he had stopped calling them chopsticks. Instead, he called them "muscles."

"My muscles fall down! I pick it up!"
"Look at my muscles!"
"I eat with my muscles!"

You get the idea.

Jeff reminded him they were called "Chop-Sticks!"

Grant's reply?

"Muscle chop sticks!"

Next time you eat chinese, try to use your muscles.

Math Man

Connor has been really into his addition and subtraction lately. He has a couple of activity books that he has been working through, spending time almost every night! In fact, Friday night it was time to go to bed, but he begged to do a math page.

Well sure. Isn't that what most kids want to do with their Friday night?

I had gone to the store and gotten a few things over the weekend, including Fig Newtons. I NEVER buy packaged cookies. Hello? I love to bake! I guess I was having some pregnancy craving or something. Anyway, I gave the boys a couple of cookies each to have before bed. Connor was eating cookies and working on his subtraction page. He had a couple of problems that he was having trouble with in particular...18-7 and 18-8. We started talking about the concept of subtraction and "taking away."
He had worked with a number line and he got 18-7, but this one problem, 18-8 was really tripping him up.
We tried relating it to 18-7...which led to Jeff asking Connor:

"Let's say you have 18 Fig Newtons. If I were going to take some cookies away from you, would you rather me take away 7 or 8?"

My sweet boy answered:

"I'd want you to take away 8!"

Jeff: "Why? Then you wouldn't have as many cookies!"

Connor: "But then I'd know the answer to 18-8 was!"


Friday, September 12, 2008

He's getting better

Connor is having a better time with Kindergarten.

I am sure it has nothing to do with our bribe for him this week.

If he went to school every day, without crying and complaint, then he could invite a new friend from school out for pizza and video games Friday night.

Hmmm....what could I be bribed with?

Well, I have to say, that he did a FANTASTIC job this week! We've had a lot of changes at our house, with the going to school, starting the after-school program, having to buy his lunch. All rather traumatic to our eldest. But he is a champ.

Many of you have expressed concern over him, but be aware, he is better. You may certainly continue to pray for him (and all of us!) as this year is a trying one. But thank you for your words of encouragement and offers of help.
He is growing into a brave Kindergartner!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Weekend and chili dinner

So this weekend was Jeff's annual trip to the lake. The guys all get together and take time out and their time together? Well, from what I can deduce it involves quite a bit of drinking, horseshoe playing, and eating of spicy food. That is just what I can deduce. Unfortunately, this year they didn't spend much time out on the boat or the lake because of the cool temperatures. I was told, though, that it was still a great time and nice to get away.

While daddy was off playing, the boys and I had our own fun. Actually, Friday night started with them over at Grandma Gayle's. My friend Marjie's 30th birthday prom party was Friday night, so I went stag with some girlfriends. Fortunately, Grandma Gayle was kind enough to watch the boys 3 NIGHTS IN A ROW so that our week could go off as planned. Thanks:)

Anyway, Friday night was fun, but also humorous. It was a 90's prom, and several people did come dressed in their 90's gear. I am not that brave, so I stuck with a borrowed dress from my sister that did manage to fit over my belly pooch. There were oh...10 women there who were pregnant...I told Marjie she should have called it a "white trash" prom b/c of all of the pregnant girls. Just kidding, Marje:) It really was fun and I am very impressed that your husband pulled that off for you. Kudos to Nate.

Saturday I awoke with a killer headache (I could make some reference here to my high school proms, but won't.) and couldn't figure out why. I figured I'd forgotten to drink enough water and took some Tylenol. I took the boys to the zoo and made a grave mistake. Grant told me he wanted to walk at the zoo. I said "ok, that is fine, but I am not going to carry you."

Two year olds don't have much in the ability to reason and think through consequences. Clearly, I don't either.

So I took the boys to the zoo--WITHOUT the stroller, but WITH a gigantic headache. We saw a few animals, but mostly we just threatened to leave Grant at the zoo if he didn't walk with us. He would stop, squat, then pretend that he just wasn't going to walk any further. At which point I would tell Connor to "keep walking, but slow down" so that he THOUGHT we were leaving him. It worked probably 30 of the 40 times we had to do it.
At one point, my wise little almost-six-year-old reminded me, "Daddy would have spanked him by now."
Connor was right, and the point was taken.
We only made it through Africa, God bless me, I have no idea how, and then we headed on home where we EACH proceeded to take a three hour nap. It was blissful. Except when I had to wake up...and I STILL had the headache!

Aside from the headache, the time with the boys was good. We made a crock-pot of chili, which I talked up and tried to get the boys excited about . We even went to the store to buy fritos and cheese for the top. They weren't unhappy, never mind that my boys are a little bit picky, and I don't cook chili often (jeff won't eat beans). So, I gave Grant the CHOICE (I am learning a bit about parenting toddlers) and asked if he wanted to his fritos on top of his chili or under his chili. He wisely chose "on top." The chips and cheese provide a nice disguise from what otherwise might be suspect food to a 2-year-old.

Connor decided that he wanted his chips and cheese in a little bowl on the side.

The verdict? Grant ate quite a bit. I am not sure how much chili got into his mouth, but thankfully we had brownies and ice cream to fill up the empty spaces in his belly afterwards.

Connor didn't like it. "Eww. I don't like it" I offered him several options including eating the meat only or having no brownies. I also offered up the suggestion of putting his chips and cheese on top for some "crunch." I then left it alone and devoured my bowl, because honestly? It was good chili.

A couple of minutes later, I hear this from Connor:

"I gotta tell ya mom. This is pretty good with the fritos and cheese on it."

How old is this kid? He cracks me up. I am just glad he (mostly) ate his chili.

And then filled up on dessert. I don't know where they get that.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Kindergarten Blues

Connor's got 'em.

Every weekday (since his first day) he's been crying and telling me he doesn't want to go to school. The reason? He's bored, he's sad, he doesn't want to be away from us all day.
The all-time most painful comment from him...

"Some kids don't have Kids Country on their nametag. They get to be a car rider or bus rider and go home after school. Why can't I come home right after school?"

Uggggghhhh. Just a minute.

Extracting. knife. from. heart.

So, ya see, this is pretty painful for all of us right now.

I know that he's bored in his class because they are doing "boring" things like talking about the alphabet and reading easy books. It isn't his fault he's a prodigy, y'know.
And the after-school program? I am thinking it must be lacking in structure and activities. His teacher told me he gets progressively "sadder" as the Kindergarten time draws to a close and the time draws nearer for him to go to Kids Country.

This morning was another sad one, with him repeatedly crying to me that "I don't want to go to school!"
"Me neither, Pal," was my response one time.
I asked Connor what he wanted me to do and he had a couple of solutions:

"I want to go to school with you or Dad." "I want to stay home." "Can't I go to Grandma's today?"
He did seem to settle down a bit when I told him that I was looking into other options for him. I won't tell him what they are, just in case things don't work out.
I then asked him to trust me. That Jeff and I were doing all that we could to make sure he could have a good day every day. "Do you trust me?" I asked.

So now I'm on a mission and there MAY be a solution in sight. I am quite excited for the possiblity of returning to a familiar place for part of his day. Much to the chagrin of my independent self, I can't solve this problem alone. But God is good, and I am so grateful for the army of love and support that is being shown to our family right now.

So, if you think of us, will you pray for our family? The adjustment is rough, and when a kiddo's heart is broken, so is Mom's.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Connor's 1st day of Kindergarten

Connor went to Kindergarten on Tuesday. It was a really big day for him. Being teachers, Jeff and I don't always have the most flexible schedules, but we were both fortunate enough to take him in for that all-important first day.

He and Jeff went out for a breakfast sandwich at Hardee's, then off for a quick visit to Grandma's house, then I was able to meet up with them at Connor's school.

We got a picture of him with his teacher right before I went in. I think we both kind of wanted to stay, but in asking the teacher, she said that "it's really best for all of the kids if you go ahead and leave." So, reluctantly, we did. We were pretty torn up, but we made it though the day.

Connor did better than we did on that first day. It's a big step for mom and dad too.

Connor outside his school.

At home, heading out the door with dad!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Alabama Vacation

A few pictures from our 'bama vacation...

We spent 18 hours in the car going both there and back...this is how Connor spent MOST of his time.

If you ask Grant what he liked most about vacation, he will tell you that he got to eat Teddy Grahams in the car. Clearly, we didn't need to spend money a beach vacation. A $1.99 box of chocolate chip teddy grahams was all the boy wanted. You can see him applauding in the car in response to my question, "Would you like some Teddy Grahams?"
"Yayyy Teddy Grahams!"

We got to the beach too late to play the first night, so this was our first day out there. Connor and I spent some time jumping over the waves.

Grant--taking in the Gulf.

Connor, surveying the waves...

Now he's having fun. He was running, jumping, riding, falling, and just generally enjoying the waves!

We went to the U.S.S. Alabama--a retired battleship docked in Mobile Bay.

This is Connor in front of a WWII airplane they had on display at the Battleship Park.

Another day, we went out to Alligator Alley--an refuge for "nuisance alligators" (those that grow over 6 feet long, those found outside of their natural habitats, and a couple that were found in people's backyards--eating their dogs.)

The boys both got to hold the 2 year old gator. He was REALLY strong!

Grant held and kind of "hugged" the gator.

Thought Grant didn't love playing in the waves like we'd hoped, he did enjoy floating with me. We did this quite a bit, and even saw dolphins swimming out just a little ways away from shore while we were out there!

Jeff and Connor spent a lot of time building sandcastles.

Grant spent a lot of time digging in the beach bags, looking for any stray snacks we may have brought.

We buried Connor in the sand!

More castle-building!

My handsome big boy.

Grant, trying to get the sand off of him, or throw it. He alternated between the two actions.

First try for a family pic on the beach.

We liked this one a bit better though.

We had a great time. The boys got to sleep in bunk beds, which was a source of endless excitement for Grant. We loved our condo, there were a bunch of pools and the beach was just beautiful. Maybe in a few years we can go back!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

You're Gonna Miss This

Ever hear of the song? I don't know who sings's on country stations and I don't listen to much country, but this song will bring up tears every time.
It is about how we basically wish away these stages of our lives, but then look back and miss the times that have gone by.
Oh, I think I feel tears coming on now, as I think that the song might possibly be the theme song for my life thus far. I am trying to snap out of it and am doing a little better since I see how quickly time flies and how fast the kids are growing.

I took the boys to run errands today...had a great time at the dollar store, Beauty Brands (hey, I had a coupon I had to use!), and then to the Farmer's Market. When we got home I saw that Jeff wasn't ready for the the t-ball pizza party yet, so I started nagging him about getting with it so we could go. He told me he'd been sitting and listening to that song and was a little sad.
You know how sensitive I am, so I am sure you could script my reply...
"That's great. I like that song too. Could ya please go shower now?"

Anyway, I went back to our room a little while later and found Connor crying while he was talking to Jeff.
"What's wrong, Buddy? Why are you sad?"

"Because I love it when Dad throws me into the pool and someday I am going to be too big for him to throw me in the pool!"
More tears ensued.

I don't know how many kids stop and think about the passing of their childhoods, but I am thinking that I really didn't. Ever.

Connor has such a sweet and sensitive spirit...he could only think of how sad he'd be when he can't play with his dad like he does now.

We assured him that when he gets bigger and is a daddy he'll get to have even MORE fun, because he'll be getting to throw his own child into the pool. We told him he has no idea how much fun being a Dad is...but it's even better than being the kid.
That seemed to suffice for him.

For us, it just served as a reminder to treasure this time...we won't get it back.

Swim lessons

Connor had his SECOND round of swim lessons during the latter half of June. If you know me, you know that swim lessons are HUGE to me. I was a lifeguard and swim lesson teacher for more than 7 years and I am VERY particular about what I expect my children to learn in swim lessons. Unfortunately, our first round did not make the cut. I wish that I weren't so non-confrontational...the lessons really were so NOT good that I should have asked for (at least a partial!) refund after the first week. It is my own fault though. I was trying to save money on gas by staying here in town. Lesson learned...from now on we'll continue trekking down to Pleasant Hill for our lessons. They are so great! We loved them last year, but tried something a little closer to home during the first part of June. Oh well, I am sure it didn't hurt my little fish to be in the water a bit more!

I am so proud of how well Connor is doing. He is working on diving now, and it comes and goes.

He can get all around the pool now--"Look Ma! No floaties!" and it really gives me such peace of mind to know that he can get himself from one side of the pool to the other. Aaahhh. The other child? Not so much. A few words to describe Grant around the water? Totally fearless and utterly ignorant. So far, it is still pretty stressful to take that one to the pool, but we are getting along ok.

Connor had several MUCH older kids in his class, but he always kept right up with them, doing everything they were, doing races and all. I told him I am MOST proud that he is learning to swim without depending on goggles or plugging his nose--two "habits" that I find can really impair kids as they grow as swimmers.

He had a blast with his friends, can do a "mean" freestyle and has confidence in the water. I just can't ask for much more!
I am proud of my boy!

Monday, June 23, 2008


I am not a great traveler. (Did I spell that right???) Don't get me wrong. It always SOUNDS great to go somewhere new and see the sights, but when it comes down to it, unless my family is coming along, I am usually a bit apprehensive.

My trip to Chicago was no exception, but I still really enjoyed it.

Katrina and Angie invited Marjie and me to go on a sightseeing girls' trip to Chicago. Flights were cheap (though I have no idea how with the prices at the pump!) and I have never been to Chicago. It isn't too far from here and I had always intended to go with Jeff, or with just never happened.

I was so nervous to leave the family at home...but they did beautifully without me. In fact, I believe Connor's words were: "Mom, I missed you just a teeny tiny little bit." Not to be confused with his dramatics surrounding Jeff's impending departure. He cried the entire day before Jeff left for Oklahoma for bball camp.

I know they did miss me...and I missed them. I was ready to go home after a short 36 hours in Chicago of shopping, eating, and WALKING! Considering my leg bone is fractured, it probably wasn't the best use of my time, but it was a place unlike any I'd ever been. I felt very small and a bit "country," though I know that I am not. When we arrived, we had a bit of trouble figuring out the train, the bus, the trolley. In fact, the question "Why are we so STUPID??" was the mantra for the first day of the trip. The free yet oh-so-elusive trolley that would take us all over downtown makes for fun memories as well. Chicago was LOUD, but I loved the easily accessible public transportation (once we got over our stupidity!), the sights, and just getting away and taking time out for me. Sometimes we moms just don't do that enough.

Yes, I am still here!

Not that anyone reads this...except for a couple of you...but I have been BUSY!
Let's see here...lots of fun going on this summer. We've had swim lessons, a girls' trip to Chicago, Jeff has been out of town, and we're preparing for vacation. Whew. And I thought summer would be a "break!" It has been good, just not the slower pace that I envisioned.
I want to post pics of Chicago and the swim lessons, so stay tuned.

Friday, May 23, 2008

funny from Grant

We had our carpets cleaned on Wednesday as part of our rid-the-house-of-any-allergen-and-all-dirt-particles-frenzy. We are having the air ducts cleaned next week, buying a dehumidifier, and doing some deep spring cleaning. Good times for us, better times for our checkbook. Not really.
Anyway, the guy who cleans our carpets is really a nice guy. When my in-laws lived in this house, he was the one who cleaned their carpets...and he remembers this. In fact, when I book an appointment and give him my address, he always says, "Gayle's old house, right?"
And his name is Jeff. Which is confusing to the little one.

Grant was a bit fearful of the loud equipment, but mostly that he was going to be taken away by the carpet cleaning man. I was trying to subdue his fears, and I introduced him to "Mr. Jeff."
My mom was over and talking with Grant about "Mr. Jeff" and how nice he was. She then said, "his name is Jeff just like your daddy!"

She might have confused him a little bit.

The next day, Grant asked me several times where "Cool Beans Daddy-O" was at. Now, I say "cool beans daddy-o" at least once weekly, so I wasn't sure what he meant, but went out on a limb...
"Grant, do you mean 'where is Daddy?'"
"Yes" (pronounced Yays--it is too stinking cute, get him to say it for you soon)
"Daddy is still at school. He'll be home soon."

Several minutes later, we're in the van on our way to meet Jeff at school. Grant, out of nowhere, busts out with the following:

"I no like Mr. Jeff. I like my DADDY!"

I hope he isn't scarred for life thinking I was trading Daddy in for the carpet cleaner just because they happen to have the same name!

Y'know, any old guy with the name of Jeff will work...just kidding, Honey:)

Friday, May 16, 2008


It's the first campout of the season!

If you know me at all, you know that I am NOT a campout-kinda-girl. I prefer my toilets to be indoors and for there to be running water and electricity--no matter where I am.

Picky, aren't I?

BUT...this kind of campout I can handle. My in-laws have 18 acres and so we go out to the back side of their land, take a fire pit, some dogs (hot dogs, and sometimes furry dogs), the kids, some treats, and cold refreshment down the hill behind their house. Then, our family (because we are allergy prone and I SWEAR our kids will sleep nowhere when other people are around them) happily heads home to sleep in our own warm and soft beds.
Perfect arrangement.

All the junk-foody-goodness of camping, without all the hassle of sleeping with "nature." Ugh.

Actually, I rather like being outside. It is sharing the outside that bugs me.

Speaking of "sharing the outside," there is a movie trailer out there right now that just might be the death of me (oh, I hope not!). We saw it last night while watching The Office. No, I still don't have a DV-R, though we did "tape" it so we could run, but unfortunately, sometimes we forget to fast-forward through the commercials. I am afraid that this one may be burned into my mind for life.

Like that scene from "Seven" where Gwyneth Paltrow's head is delivered in a box to Brad Pitt. One of the worst movies, ever, in terms of scariness, I might add--oh, maybe there's worse, but I have only allowed myself to be talked into one movie-- The Blair Witch Project since I saw "Seven"--too scared. And Jeff had to spend most of that movie reminding me that the people were actors.
And that they were likely eating donuts when we couldn't see them on camera.

Anywho. It's some movie about these people that live out in the country and there is someone terrorizing them. Then the terrorizer breaks in and presumably kills them.

Beautiful and happy thoughts.

After watching it, I was totally freaked out, but decided to bite my tongue. Jeff calls me a "wimp" because of my inability to stomach scary movies.
And he's mad because we can never see them at the theater.

Or rent them.

Or look at them in the video store...due to my inability to erase killer images from my mind.

It was Jeff who spoke up and said he thought that might have been the scariest preview he'd ever seen. We agreed on that. Because it was actually plausible. Shudder.

Anyway, so tonight when we are in the woods...far away from other houses...I am certain that awful image of the stranger standing in the woods will haunt my memory. Hopefully the delighted squeals of my children shooting each other and their cousins with marshmallow guns will drown out the fearsome images.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Countdown to Summer

Hard to believe, but we have only 12 days until our summer begins. We are more than ready. Lots of fun planned...
A vacation to Alabama--the beach! The boys have never been and it has been wayyyy too long since Jeff and I have been.
A new waterpark in our city. It is ALMOST finished being built, hopefully it is up and running in the next couple of weeks.
Grandma's pool! Gets filled up tomorrow! Brrrr!
Playdates seems that everyone wants to get together while we're off!
Basketball league games--this is Jeff, but it keeps us busy!
T-ball games
Down time. Much needed, for all of us.
I hope it doesn't go by too fast!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day 2008

We had a great Mother's Day...exhausting, but great. It began with a deliciously sweet breakfast of donuts from Lamar' favorite! Connor was so pleased that he and Daddy "tricked" me into thinking they were cooking me breakfast.
We headed off to church earlier than usual so that we could pack more into our self-imposed craziness of trying to pack too much into too little time!
Connor made a bracelet...kind of big for a bracelet, but kind of small for a necklace. I say "kind of" but mean "way too" in that last sentence. I saw it when we picked him up from his Sunday school class and was so touched. I thought it was for me, you know, it being Mother's Day and all. I am so silly.
"Mom, look what I made for Hailey!" Hailey??!!!?? Are you kidding me? Hailey is his cousin, and of course, I love her, but she is not a mother! She is 7! I guess that makes her cooler than me, but alas, I have to admit that I was a bit saddened.

Subway for lunch was fast and cheap so we could head to the zoo! We arrived there by noon or so, and began our trip through Africa. Connor was tired from all of the walking, but the zoo really caters to moms on Mother's day, providing free ice cream FOR MOMS ONLY and a free train or tram ride FOR MOMS ONLY. Brilliant marketing, Zoo.
Really, it was fun and the boys liked the extra-special treats, so other than the endless walking with little reward in terms of actually seeing active animals, it was a great trip.
We headed home around 3:00--pretty much the time Grant normally WAKES from his nap, so he took a snooze in the car.
We were then off to dinner at Grandma's and riding big wheels in the front drive. Oh, how I always wanted a big wheel. I love how they kids fly around on them, spinning out. It's lots of fun to watch.

As Connor was winding down for bed, he was telling me how he was going to take the bracelet to school to give to Hailey's brother (since he'd forgotten to take it to his Grandma's) and I offered to make it smaller so that it would fit her.
He informed me that it would fit her just fine in a while. I put it on my arm and it fell off. After our discussion about wrist growth over the course of a lifetime, he did finally agree that making it smaller might be a good idea.
So, I lovingly took apart his bracelet and retied it to fit Hailey's seven-year-old wrist instead of my thirty-one-year old wrist. I was feeling kind of sad. I felt a little guilty, but I had to ask him:
"So, did everyone else make bracelets for their mom, you know, since it is Mother's Day today?"
Connor: "Oh, our teacher said we could give it to anyone we wanted."
I need to have a talk with this person.
"oh." I suppose he doesn't get "momspeak" for "you should feel guilty about this" yet.
It is really all very sweet and innocent. I really am fine, not scarred even a little bit. I do suppose that there will be many more times in my life that things like this will happen. I am just grateful for my boys and for the time I have been given with them. I got a kiss and a big hug and an "I love you" from my big boy. I also got a "Happy Mudders Day" said by a tired little guy.
Who needs a bracelet when you've got that?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Not about the boys...just this once

Just this one time, (ok, it may happen sometime again in the future) I am posting NOT about the kids...but about Jeff and me! We both ran a great race this past Sunday in Lincoln and really enjoyed it. Jeff ran the full marathon in 3 hours, 26 minutes. I ran the half marathon in 1 hour, 53 minutes. Both of us exceeded our own expectations in terms of our "must have" goal times, so we were pleasantly surprised! The course was GREAT--aside from a few miles of packed-in-like-sardines-sidewalk running, everything was perfect. The town of Lincoln seemed to thoroughly enjoy hosting this race and were perfect cheerleaders at the early hour of 7am.
Oh. Except for one poor soul. Jeff saw her, but as he recounts the story:
"We were running through this intersection and the police had the cars stopped until there was a break in the runners." BTW, this was happening all over the city, not just a couple of intersections. Anyway,
"There were cars stopped, and people yelling out their windows things like 'Go Runners!' 'You can do it!' and the like. Well, one woman had had enough. She got OUT OF HER CAR and YELLED: 'I HATE THIS RACE!' I am thinking that maybe she got out on the wrong side of the bed, or was running a titch late for something." (Actually, there may have been a few runners who echoed her sentiments at that exact moment!)
So, aside from this woman, the town of Lincoln was delightful.
If you've never run in a race, just trust me that it is SO much easier when there are people (even if they are strangers!) cheering you on. Like I said, people were even yelling (mostly nice things) from their cars. The weather was unbelievable. We had both been concerned that we'd be cold, thus our "winter" attire, but it was a gorgeous day.
The boys stayed with J's mom and loved every minute of it. I was informed that "We didn't miss you while you were gone." Which is about the most resounding recommendation for a babysitter that I could ask for.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Connor's 1st Ever T-ball game!

Connor's first-ever tball game, and thus our foray into what I assume will be our long relationship with community sports, began this past Saturday.
He was SO excited...I think he woke up at 5am that morning. Not good, considering Jeff and I were trying to get just a little bit of sleep before our trip to Lincoln for our big race on Sunday.

He couldn't wait to get dressed in his sharp new uniform. "Snakes" T-Shirt? Check. Bright white baseball pants? Check. Cool super-long baseball socks? Check. Arctic layering pieces? Check??
Yes, they were necessary, as it wasn't quite typical baseball weather at the brisk temperature of 37 degrees. In addition to the temperature being cold, the fields where he plays are known as the local version of the arctic wind tunnel. Seriously. Running out there is like nothing I've ever experienced. No trees, no shelter, just lots and lots of wind. Standing out there is even less pleasant, at least in terms of the weather.

The game we watched, however, more than made up for the unfavorable weather conditions.
It was wildly entertaining, what with the players being five years old and relatively new to the sport of t-ball.

Connor gave me a little grin as he headed out to bat.

A hit! YEAH! He was so excited, he forgot all about baseball and its rules. The coach yelled "Run! Run!" Oh, he ran. In circles. It was hilarious! He didn't know whether to run to the dugout or to first base. So he just ran--kind of a back-and-forth kind of run. The coach graciously took his shoulders and directed him to first base. Too cute.

Here he is in the "outfield" (they're five, remember?). Looking a little (yawn!) bored, I'd say. Not too much action this far from the plate, that is for sure.

Overall, it was a successful game. Yes, it was cold, but we had fun. Connor is already counting the days until he gets to play again.