Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cooper's Christmas Program 2011

Most days aren't like this.

Most days ...he chases the dog, leaves all the lights on, leaves crumbs all over the house, doesn't flush the toilet, hides his socks under the couch, demands that he wear THIS shirt... not THAT one...and generally wreaks havoc. I sometimes wonder if that will be the legacy of this three year old boy of mine.

But then...there are days like this one.

Today he sang like an angel at his preschool program. He didn't have his finger up his nose. He was a good friend at his buddy's birthday party and even let the birthday boy open the presents. He rocked the sweater vest. He said the dinner blessing all by himself. He tried ALL the green vegetables on his plate. He let me read him the Christmas story ...two times because I love it so much ...and he fell asleep in my lap...smelling a little bit like boy and a lot like the candy cane pieces that were stuck in his hair.

Chaos may be his legacy... but so will days like these. And I am thankful for all of them.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Halloween 2011

Tired of buying four new costumes each year only to see them worn once and then discarded into the"dress up" toybin ... I dubbed this Halloween a "recycling" year. Each child got a five dollar budget with which to accessoriz their creative costume ... or they could beg, borrow or trade with another child or friend. As long as everyone was happy and didn't spend more than five bucks ... we could trick or treat.

I had no idea how it would go ...or how much whining would ensue. I am happy to say the kids stepped up and had great fun creating, re-creating, and mixing/matching their costumes to make some good projects.

Grayson wanted to go as Harry Potter and spend his money on black hair dye. He even (very creatively) wanted to "Trunk or Treat" at the church the night before and didn't want to use his hair dye yet, so he donned the robe and went au natural ... as Ron Weasley!

Emma found a bargain wig, dug out some funky glasses and tie dye sweatshirt and went as a "hippy witch."

Claire couldn't resist a purple witch hat at Wal-Mart, found some black makeup in the clearance bin and salvaged Emma's old vampire dress to create a "witchy vampire" ...without fangs. Some things are just too scary when you are seven.

Cooper didn't have much of an opinion we thought it would be fitting to have him wear the "fourth generation" lion suit. Because it's been washed and worn so many times, it doesn't roar like it used to. Now when you push the button, it's more like a tired "meow." But it brought back memories of all of them wearing it at some point ..."roaring" all over the house. It's hard to remember them all that small. I can't believe it's the end of an era.

I guess we'll have to find someone to pass the lion down to. We had so much fun "recycling" this year, we might have to make it a tradition.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Happy 7th Birthday Claire!!!

Dear Claire,

Seven years ago you entered our lives ... and added so much to it. We thought our life was pretty full already but God had plans to bless us with the gifts He entrusted to you. You were and are the balance that we need ...the calm to the storm... the content to the discontented ...the giver to to the taker ...and the smile to the sadness.

We wonder out loud what each of you will grow into in the coming years.. but because I want to remember who you are at seven you go.

You are the first to share....anything at anytime. Except maybe chocolate.

Your friends are important to you ... but not as important as your siblings.

You still play with Barbies ... and let me play with you.

Reading is a favorite pasttime. Learning to ride a bike? Not so much.

Dresses, jewelry, and accessories = getting dressed.

You wish school would happen on the weekends... but not start until noon.

You love trying different foods ... but defend your right to eat meat against your almost vegetarian sister. And no... it's not in the Constitution. Sorry.

When the older ones talk about college... I see how you react. You've asked if it's against the law to NOT go away to school. No it isn't. But we hope you do. Don't worry... you are always welcome here.

Happy birthday Claire....thanks for forgiving us for all the "middle child" mistakes we make.


Mom and Dad

Sunday, September 18, 2011

First Football Game

On my "bucket list" is a professional football game. But not just any game.... it has to be the Colts... or the Packers. Coincidentally, that very thing is on Monte and Grayson's bucket lists as well. When two tickets came available to see the Pack play here in Carolina, let's just say I took one for the team and let the boys go.

I'm not taking it very well. But they are having a blast and I am happy for them. Mostly.

In the spirit of full disclosure, had the game been at Lambeau... or in Indy...I would have rigged the straw game.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Happy 3rd Birthday Cooper!

It happens...just as you know it will...just as they say it will...but it sneaks up on you just the same.

They grow up.

Even the baby.

This birthday follows a whirlwind of developmental milestones...the ones in Dr. Sear's books...potty trained, sleeping in a regular bed, riding a tricycle, going to preschool, conversing in full paragraphs, using regular utensils and cups, etc.

But for me, it is the milestones that SHOULD be in the books that are the most functional ...and those are also completely valid (and selfish) reasons we love our new three year old....

1. He can finally tell me where I left my keys (or where he put them).

2. He can rat on who REALLY made the stain on the carpet (and what it is).

3. He can get up, go to the bathroom and unwrap a granola bar and let me drink half a cup of coffee every morning.

4. He can finally make sense of normal movies so the rest of us no longer have to suffer through Barney and the Wiggles on long road trips.

5. He rocks the bowl cut.

6. He completely and totally worships the siblings...(that one came from the siblings).

7. His L's and R's are not completely fixed... so he still says " I yub you Mommy" every night.

8. He can contribute to the "cleaning up"... and not only the "messing up."

9. He can now go to preschool five mornings per week.

10. Did I mention he says "I yub you Mommy." I mean, really. How priceless is that?

Thank you to my dear neighbors and friends who brought "second generation" presents (after about an hour and half lead time) to our impromptu party and helped us eat Thomas the Tank cupcakes, shoot Nerf darts, build trains, and play Hungry Hungry Hippo.

We are blessed.

For those reasons, and many more... we love this three year old boy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Lessons from the Pool

Dear Team Savage,

We looked for a neighborhood with a summer swim league for many reasons... the fun, the teamwork, the exercise, the skill sets. I could go on and on extolling the benefits. But in the "heat" of it all... between volunteering, practices, getting babysitters, etc., sometimes the reason of WHY we do it gets lost somehow.

When it is all said and done, it's the GROWTH. Your growth as a swimmer, your growth as a team player, your growth as a sibling (and mentor to the younger ones), and your growth as a player. Yes, it is at least as important to learn how to BE coached than how TO coach. Because in life, you end up being coached a lot more often than the other way around.

It's about our growth too... as parents. It's learning how to juggle things so that there are enough volunteers to run a meet. Even when I would rather it in the air-conditioning at home. It's about being hospitable hosts and sportsmanlike in wins and losses.

Because you are watching. And learning. And growing. And swimming.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Girl Scout Camp

It's the first day of a seven week trackout.

The girls are off to Girl Scout day camp.

Claire is beyond excited.

Emma is mildly annoyed Claire is old enough to join her.

Cooper got out his canteen and was upset he wasn't invited.

Grayson is bored.

I think we may need to plan a vacation from our vacation.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Two Hours Till Summer Break....

Yes, we go to a year round school. Yes, we've had three trackouts already. Yes, this year we get an actual summer too. Due to changing our elementary track to all kids on track four, the kids get seven weeks off ....starting in two hours.

So, it's official... a fifth grader, third grader, first grader, and preschooler. Not for the faint of heart.

The mood was somber this morning. The kids all voluntarily made cards and packed special treats for their teachers. Emma's teacher is having a baby then taking a year off so by the time she returns, Emma will be in middle school. Bittersweet.

It's always both exciting and heartbreaking to see the attachments they make.

Swimteam has started. That helps keep them busy...and we plan to roadtrip back to Indiana and Illinois. A beachhouse trip may be in the works as well, depending on work factors.

Memory-making in the works.

Let the summer begin!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Backblogging... Easter Sunday at the Beach

Again.... I am behind. No excuses.

This Easter Monte was away on a business trip and it was HOT. The kids and I went to church then decided to hit the road and see how many other people decided to hide their eggs in the sand. We had a lovely time... though I am fairly certain if God had given us an 11th commandment, it would have gone something like this ....

"Thou shalt NOT eat McDonald's on Easter Sunday!"

But we did. Twice.

I justified it this way... Mama was making memories... not sandwiches.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Arrrgghh.... the Two's Room Be Over ....

It's the last week of preschool for the year. Sniff.

Cooper is wrapping up his 2 yr old year with Pirate Week.

I love preschool. It allows me to go to work and be my "pre-children" self for a few hours a week. But more than that, it allows my kids to grow, and be active, and learn, and become more independent. Plus, they get to do all kinds of fun things that I don't have the creative spark (or patience) to do. Homemade bird feeders and tye-dye? Those are "preschool only" activities. After all, what fun would Ms. J and Ms. L have if all of you had "already done that" at home?

This two year old class was a big gamble. Cooper had just turned two, we had just moved, and I was still grieving the loss of the "known" preschool at home. But I believe God left that ONE opening just for us... and He knew what we needed.

Cooper and I fell in love with the preschool... the entire staff. It's now our church home. It's gone from "the new" to "the known" and we are thankful for what it has given us. I just hope they don't expect any tye-dye coffee filter projects over the summer....

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Daddy Envy

Admittedly, there are numerous things that I just don't fully comprehend. Gravity, nuclear power, middle eastern politics, people who don't like chocolate, red wine drinkers... and the whole and all-encompassing power of the DADDY.

At our house, I can spend the ENTIRE day throwing balls, cutting out playdough, baking cookies and speaking in all of the voices from Wonder Pets....but when the DADDY walks through the door...all bets are off. When he asks them what they did all day, they (often) shrug their collective shoulders and say "....nothing."


It doesn't even start when he walks in the door. Often it starts when they spot his car, hear the garage door, or (God forbid) read the clock on the microwave that indicates he MIGHT be home soon. The looks on their faces when they see him reminds me of the looks in the kids' faces when they finally reached Willie Wonka's chocolate factory. Every day.

Don't get me wrong... I love that they love him. I don't blame them. He is a FAN-tastic daddy and lots of fun. He has endless patience for multiple books, lengthy backscratches, tickle contests and pillow fights. Of course, he doesn't need to race downstairs to answer emails about donations for school projects, RSVP to birthday parties, organize carpool or arrange playdates.

He doesn't covet bedtime like I do... maybe because he hasn't been with a two year old for the past 10 hours. Or because he hasn't done homework, cleaned out backpacks, assigned chores, signed consent forms, and found and laundered the class shirts that have to be worn on the field trip the next day. Before dinner.

I thought this phenomena was unique to my house. Until I mentioned it to my friends... and neighbors. It turns out this Daddy-Mania is an epidemic sweeping the nation. 9/10 families "surveyed" feel like the mom is consistently the taskmaster while Daddy tends to be "the fun parent." In fact, several people noted a recent episode of Modern Family that addresses this very issue. I am going to find that on Hulu for sure.

And while we love and are eternally grateful for our partners and the support they give us..and again, we are not suggesting we trade places with the Daddys....all moms I spoke with said they would just LOVE to be welcomed home after grocery shopping by their children with a rapture-like chorus of "MOMMY'S HOME." Instead of the usual ...." Did you ONLY buy the healthy cereal?"

So come one fellas... give us the secret. What's in that Daddy mojo? Can we get just a little bit of it?

Until then....I guess we will just say thank you to the Daddys in our lives, accept our fate, and chuck it up to "things we'll never fully understand."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Happy 8th Birthday Grayson!!!

It's funny how some years just seem to have a large amount of change built into them. Some birthdays are just milemarkers that tell you just how fast time has gone... and how your children are morphing into more self-reliant people. Smarter, more independent, more self-assured, with a sense of humor that is more and more unique to them.

From seven to eight has been a year like that for you. We are excited to watch your soccer games, swim meets and neighborhood football scrimmages. Your brother idolizes your every move.. and (most of the time) you are very patient with him. You are a good friend ... and the group of you is always good for a laugh. And a pile of empty food wrappers. And dirty laundry.

When you read this, who knows how old you will be... and if you will even care what you were like at age eight. But I care... and I want to remember. So here we go.


*love music

* are taking guitar lessons

*can swim competitively

*love soccer but not sure if you want to do it in a structured league

* like your hair longer than I like it

* live to play outside with your friends

*are best friends with your siblings...mostly

* can eat an infinite number of tacos at Taco Bell

*are reading the Harry Potter series

*are starting to notice girls... but not "liking them"...

*would sooner have a limb amputated than do homework

*read Sports Illustrated for Kids cover to cover

*would live at the beach if you could

We love you and are so proud of you. Happy 8th birthday buddy!

Mom and Dad

Monday, May 9, 2011

The art gene...

There are some traits the kids have that are obviously from Monte or me. The hair, the dimples, the sarcasm...those are all things we can attribute to family members...immediate or otherwise.

But there is one gene that Emma (and recently Claire) has always had that we can't place.

It's her art gene.

She has it. We don't.

We admire it ... we are inspired by it... and want to cultivate it. But since we don't have one, we often just don't know quite what to do with it.

That's why we are forever thankful for art teachers like Mrs. Hoffman... who reach out and touch students who have a love of art, a potential for passion.... and art-impaired parents.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day...2011

I am blessed to have a a mother...and know well as mothers to be.

Many women of different ages, ethnicities, origins, religion, circumstances and situations have crossed my path over my 40 years. All have shaped me into the woman and mother I am today. All have had a lesson to pass along in some way... and for that, I am grateful.

I am thankful every day for the four blessings God has brought into our lives and especially today, when they joyfully bring me overflowing coffee cups, hand-drawn pictures, heartfelt cards and their best behavior (for half the day anyway). I know it won't always be this way. But today it is.

Many women who have graced my life and touched my heart are not celebrating in the same way I am today. Some have unborn children. Others can not hold their children today. Some don't have the monetary options or support to buy groceries for a favorite meal.

It doesn't make them any less a mother.

God bless those of us who have been graced with this tremendous task. It is as close to God's work as we will ever come.

From the girls in our house to those in yours,

Happy Mother's Day

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dear Emma... A Letter on Your 10th Birthday....

Ten years ago today... almost to the minute I sit down to write this, we welcomed you into our lives. You showed your personality early (spunky, verbal, inquisitive...and a bit stubborn) and it remains true to this day. We thought we were proud of you then....we are more so now.

I thought I'd take a minute to sit down and scribble out who you are today. While I imagine your core personality won't change so much in the years to come, it is just as much for me as it is you. Time seems to be flying so helps to just "freeze" a few moments in time.

Today, you take piano lessons. You play in the bell choir at church and can't wait to become eligible for the youth group. You enjoy girl scouts and your troop and have asked to go to horse camp with friends here in North Carolina.

Today, you still enjoy swim teams and want to try volleyball when you are able to. Outside is still your preferred location over anywhere else. Beachside with a book is your ideal vacation spot.

Today, you are creative. You love to paint, draw, sew, design and write. You recently started a blog all by yourself. You've asked for a mannequin that you can dress with all sorts of homemade clothes you design and sew. I'm so glad you don't need my help for that. I couldn't help you even if you needed it.

Today, you are a tremendous help with your siblings and they all look to you for support and encouragement. You are a good friend. You keep your sibling and friends close to you. You choose to keep connections dynamic and open. Your "family" is large and in many states. I think that's an amazing position to be in... and I will do whatever I can to help nurture those relationships.

Today, your party was requested to be "intimate... with international flair." We took five of your friends to The Melting Pot in Durham for cheese and chocolate fondue with a sleepover at our house. It was a fantastic time!

Today, we wish you a fantastic birthday and all the best wishes for your ten year old year.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Lighthouse Project

Emma's fourth grade lighthouse project was right in her wheelhouse. Researching, clay working, painting, measuring, etc. It's a good thing. Craftiness (in this context) is not a blessing God gave me.

As it happened, Cape Lookout is not one of the NC lighthouses she has seen in person....and since she did this much work on it, she is hopeful we will take her to see it. And I guess I should, since Monte and I were both working during her class walk-through today. Thank you to RK for the picture!

Good job Em! Proud of you!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Father Daughter Dance 2011 - NC style

Every girl should have a date with her daddy.

Emma's third Father Daughter dance with the Girl Scouts is going on right now. She's old enough now to have some say in her attire ... and shoes ... and accessories. We had a lot of fun shopping this time ...and she tried a bright new color. She thinks it's "sunny."

I think it suits her. It's neat to see the person she is becoming... the styles she leans toward, the music she listens to, the quotes she writes down, the Bible verses she memorizes. She makes very conscious choices... deliberate and careful in what and how she decides. This mind of will serve her well.
But for tonight, I have a feeling all she's thinking about is where her date will take her for dessert tonight. I'm sure he will. I can tell he's smitten with her.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Gearing Up for a Roadtrip....and a Reconnect...

We track out next week for a three week break. The three big kids can't wait to "roadtrip" with me back to Indiana for a long weekend to see their friends. It's a long haul (11 hours) and I was considering just hanging out and staying home....until I pulled out these pictures.
They want to go. Even when I tell them how long the ride is. I love the connections the kids still have with their friends. Sometimes email and phone calls and letters just don't do it. I understand. I feel the same way about my friends.
So midwest, in a few weeks... here we come. If only for a few days.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Crazy "Cane" Fans...

Like our house needed another sports addiction.

Grayson and Monte (and me too - when I get to go) have really enjoyed going to a few Carolina Hurricanes Hockey games. Tonight neighbors graciously provided us some tickets so I sent 2/3 of my boys off to the game... in their jerseys. The remaining 1/3 was not so happy about this arrangement. All in due time Cooper.

Have fun guys. The girls will be curled up on the couch...watching American Idol... with popcorn. Enjoying the silence.