Sunday, January 5, 2014

Addendum to best Christmas present ever


So I really wanted to do a super cute picture like this, but professional photographer, I am not!  And with a wobbly one month old, a small box and lots of chaos, this is the best we could do.  Don't think it will go out on the baby announcements (which still need to be done - it's okay to send them when the baby is 2 months old, right?) (but maybe if I send Clara's First Communion announcement around the same time, it won't seem so bad - that will be over 6 months late!)

Anyhow, here are some other shots to show you what else was going on as we tried to get the "money shot" of our sweet baby.  Oh - and it was Christmas Eve!

 If only her whole face made the picture and her burp cloth wasn't in there clashing with her outfit (which ideally would have been some cute Christmas thing!)

JM sitting on his favorite vehicle (will MK get to drive it?) -the Jeep, which we had to put new batteries in just days before.  Because it's important to get out all of your old toys just before Christmas, right?  Anyhow, he is sitting on it because he is "writing" his letter to Santa.  I think it was mostly a picture this year and sister Clara may have written what he wanted.  

And, finally, before bedtime, Mike had all of the kids take a picture with Mary Kate.  I love how each picture shows their personality! 
 Clara - so happy, loving her new sister and confident in taking care of her!
 Gracie - loving her new sister too, but definitely the protective one!
JM - loves his new sister, but it's a challenge to hold her (and hold still!) for too long.  More fun to sneak up and plant kisses on her!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Best Christmas Present ... Ever!


 Mary Katherine Schwind - we didn't expect you to arrive the way you did, but you seem to want to everything differently than your siblings!  I will always think - Mary, Mary, quite contrary! 


While I didn't get to see you for awhile (they brought you to my room that evening, around ?7ish?  - my mind was a little hazy since they give you morphine after the delivery), at least everyone else got a chance to see you and see how you were doing.  Even though you were in the NICU (really just for monitoring), Mike got to take everyone in one at a time.  The older kids and Mimi had arrived just after MK was born (11:14am) since Mike had the presence of mind to call them in the few minutes he had once we found out I was having a c-section.  Gracie wanted to rush right to the hospital, but Mimi told her they should wait just a little while. They were at the hospital by the time I was back in my room, so it worked out just fine.  They weren't so excited to see me (and I was very out of it!), but they couldn't wait to meet their new sister!  

 Gracie got to visit MK in the NICU, too, but the picture got lost somehow :-(
Thank goodness Mom was in town and able to help with the older kids.  She had spent the night at our house since I went to the hospital on Monday evening, so Mike was able to come up early in the morning to be with me.  She stayed overnight again and helped Mike to get the kids to school the next morning. 

Here's Gracie on 11/20 (the day after MK was born) and the first time she gets to hold her youngest sister!  You can see she is already got the protective big sis/2nd mama look.

Check out all that hair - everyone (including us!) has been amazed at the amount of hair she was born with - definitely different than her siblings.  And at one month, she still has all of that hair.  When she has a bath, her hair gets curly (again, different than her sibs).  The girls love to brush that hair once she has a bath.  I thought it was fun to let them do it, but not necessary.  Then I gave her a bath one day when the kids were at school and neglected to brush it.  All her hair was standing on end once it dried- quite the look!
 The dogs (Coco made the photo - Shelly was across the room) have been very good with MK so far.  No licking - just smelling and watching.  This is actually the closest I have seen Coco get to her. 

 And her siblings aren't fair weather friends - they are willing to hold her no matter what her mood.  Look at that smile as she screams away!  And the girls are the same - they all try to settle her (and usually succeed), but don't mind holding her if she's crying or fussy.  
 And on Thanksgiving, we had another willing pair of arms!  Mimi & Mary Kate.
 And just to show that I do sometimes hold the baby, too, here are a few of me with the baby.  The first picture is right after Thanksgiving - it was nice outside and relatively warm. 
And this picture is right after the big ice storm, just days later.  We were iced in for about 3 days!  Didn't matter to us, though.  We had our early Christmas present and got to enjoy her. 


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Funny & Sweet

So of course, many, many things have happened since I last posted, but here are a few of our latest funnies, along with some recent pictures!

Clara - she had an Easter egg hunt at one of her classmate's grandparents' house & they have a lake, lots of property, etc.  I was asking her about it & she was telling me about all of the land, the "lake" and then of course, the "gardener" snake!  (I couldn't help picturing a little snake with his hat & gloves on!).

JM - I have to preface this by saying I don't know what the deal is, but none of our kids seem to know what bugs are what.  Clara will scream - there's a mosquito and I will come out and see a fly!  Then next time it will be "there's a fly" when it's a gnat, etc., etc.  Well - this was a new one over the weekend.  JM had just gotten up and apparently there was a "mosp" on our refrigerator!  Yikes!  Watch out for those "mosps"  (and he kept repeating it!!

Gracie - just 'cause I can't leave her out!  She's really beyond most of these types of mistakes, but now I guess she has moved into the arena of the wrong definition for words.  We were talking about the story of the Emperor's New Clothes (Mike had "dressed" JM in an invisible sleeper to tease me -- it was hot & I was in the other room saying things like - don't put him in that, it's too warm for that).  Anyway, I didn't think I had ever read that story to the kids.  The only way I had ever heard it was from a Golden Book that we had on record when I was little.  So I asked Gracie about it and she said she "vividly" remembered it.  I didn't think much about it when she first said that, but then I questioned her on it.  Apparently, she thought vividly=vaguely!  Too funny.

And finally, JM always has funny things to say since he is the youngest.  So here is the sweet & funny that I got to hear one night.  We were reading a book about the Earth & Sky.  It is a neat book, but there is a lot of it that is too complicated for him to understand, so I was reading a little here and there and we were looking at the pictures.  It has those clear pages with different drawings on them that you overlay on the other pages, so that is one reason I think he likes it so much.  Anyhow, we were looking at the page showing the layers of the earth and then the next page shows the molten core coming out as lava from a volcano.  That prompted JM to say "if you are near a volcano and lava starts to come out, you need to run away fast or you will be toast!"  He was awfully serious when he said it, so I asked him if he knew what being toast meant?  He definitely thought it was something to do with bread in the toaster!!!  It was hard not too laugh!

Then a few pages later, it was showing the phases of the moon.  I pointed out the full moon, the crescent moon and no moon and was just wondering if I should read more detail, when JM explained how it all worked to me.  "Every night, a little bit of the moon disappears and when it is all gone, God makes a new one!"  Pretty sweet - I didn't bother correcting him on that one!

 Cubes for JM's new train table that Mike built him!


Adding to the sandbox in the backyard.  Mike put them to work this time, shoveling their own sand! 
And finally, just this past weekend, working on those Easter Eggs:
More on a great Easter weekend tomorrow! (or maybe I'll go back and do Christmas & Easter at the same time!!)



Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Valentine's Party

No - I'm not writing a post about a year ago ... although with the (ir)regularity of my posts, it could be possible.

Today, Gracie had an early Valentine's party for a few of her friends.  She had originally considered inviting some boys, but in the end decided that the boys she wanted to invite might not have had too much fun and to just invite girls.  It was a little sad to think that she is getting old enough that a boy/girl friend is different, but I think it is just starting to be true.  This has been the year of girl parties and boy parties for most of the kids she is at school with.

But I digress.  We kept it small (a Mommy requirement so I don't lose more of my sanity!!), and ended up with four friends over, plus Gracie, plus Clara (who really did a great job of being part of the party but not taking it over or upsetting Gracie - major success).  And John Michael was at home, too.  He didn't really participate in the party - he kind of hung around the fringes of what was going on or did his own thing.  Like wearing his UPS outfit for the whole party (complete with the hat that is really too small for him now) and zooming like a mad man through the house on his plasma car for the first few minutes.  Thankfully, all of the girls took it in stride and he was just a part of the party craziness.  

We were lucky to have great sunny, warm weather, so after having a lunch of make your own pizza, everyone headed outside.  The disc swing was a big hit, as was the discovery that they were big enough to climb one of our trees (the only one with any big branches that can be reached!).  Clara reminded me later tonight that we had told them they weren't allowed to climb that tree.  I had forgotten about that rule!  But that was made about 2-3 years ago.  Clara had somehow managed to get a ways up the tree (but she wasn't on the mostly-horizontal lower limb) and was about 5-6 feet up.  She started shouting for me, but I wasn't quick enough to respond.  At least quick enough to do anything other than watch  her fall from that height.  Even though it scared her pretty badly, she didn't get hurt, but that's when the no climbing the tree rule got laid down.  Anyhow, when she reminded me of that tonight, I told her I thought she was probably old enough now to climb it.  But we'll have to see how that goes.  Then John Michael will be tempted, too!  And while the girls that climbed it today all did fine, there was a pair of leggings that suffered a tragedy - big hole ripped in the back of the leggings.  That bark is just not made for sliding!


Other than tree climbing, the girls played a few games (pictures to come), but mostly enjoyed being outside and just playing.  After we gave them some white and pink balloons to play with, the Moms were attacked by a troupe of girls with static laden balloons.  We were covered in balloons - they were sticking to hair, shirts, arms, anything.  It was pretty funny.


We finished up with the pinata (or pee-ata as my kiddos use to call it).  This was a "recycled" pinata from Gracie's 3rd/4th?  birthday.  It had originally been a Care Bears pinata, but the only Care Bears on it were from the mylar balloon that fit onto the front of the pinata.  I had kept the pinata (at Gracie's request.  I also still have a pink My Little Pony pinata from C-bear) and had thought we might do something with it in the future.  About 3 weeks ago, Gracie started working on it and recovering/redecorating it.  Then Gracie and Clara stuffed it with candy last night and taped it shut.  It had originally been a ribbon pinata for younger kids (there are ribbons hanging down that the kids pull and when the "right" one is pulled, the flap opens and the candy falls out), but Gracie wanted to be able to hit the pinata.  So she and Clara scotch-taped the flap shut after the candy was in place.  Mike had expressed doubts about the pinata actually being breakable by hitting, but I told him if nothing else, the tape would give way.  Well, he definitely called it about the durability of the pinata - it was the tape that gave way and caused the candy to spill.  Then the girls spent a good 5-10 minutes more until they actually got the pinata to "bust" open.  It was pretty funny to watch.  They were determined!  And then once it had broken off the hook, they each took a turn whacking it.  I think they should have resolved any anger issues for the day with that exercise!

And that about wrapped up the party.  Mike wasn't around for most of the party since it was his weekend to work, so he was home just for the last half hour or so.  I knew that when we picked the weekend and decided I could brave this one on my own.  But he sweetly (and wisely!) called me this morning to check in and see if I needed him to finish up early.  I was doing fine though - the kids and I had gone to Home Depot this morning to do the Kid's workshop and the kids all got to make "valentine" mail holders.  I have a feeling JM may be planning to use his for train purposes - big surprise, right?  Clara, of course, had to paint hers exactly as the picture showed it. 

So I made it through Home Depot and the party, which I definitely wouldn't have, even a year ago.  But after the party, I think the cold I have been fighting caught up with me and I fell asleep this afternoon, ducking out of all the cleanup (thank you, Mikey!).  Maybe next time (Clara is planning an Easter party in a month or so) I will be able to make it all the way through the cleanup phase!!

This has been a weekend of really seeing how much the kids have grown-up.  We haven't had the party at the house for more than just family in over a year - and what a difference a year can make!  I didn't have to worry about John Michael during the party (where is he? what is he doing? is he in the way?), and Gracie did a huge part of the planning and preparation for the party herself.  She loves this part almost as much as the party!  She's been working on plans for a month, and had a clipboard with a paper with all of the activities and events for the party written out.  She helped clean over the last few days and even let Clara help her get some of the things ready for the party without a fight. 





But while I can see how much they have all grown-up and matured, poor JM gets worn out, trying to keep up and take everything in.  He had quite the fit tonight at bathtime.  It started with not being able to find his UPS cap, then progressed to being mad at Daddy about having to take his UPS outfit off for his bath and I guess ended with him wearing it over his jammies to sleep in.  (that was a Daddy-boy negotiation - I don't think the UPS outfit is very clean after being worn outside for half the day, but I'm sure we can just wash sheets and the UPS outfit tomorrow, right???). 

Anyhow, I have to finish this post with the "funny" of the day.  Tonight after the bath/UPS outfit drama, the kids were getting to play a game of musical "heart" (musical chairs, but with hearts just taped to the coffee table that the kids sit on).  We had forgotten to do it during the party, so they were really excited to play it.  Well, of course it had to be fixed so that JM could win because he was in no state to be a graceful loser.  So after one round and JM as the "winner," Clara wanted to play again.  We told her no and she kept going on and on about playing again, so I spelled out the problem for her (since the problem was JM was too tired!) - "No, we can't JM is too "U-P-S----E-T"  To which JM in his little brown outfit proudly replied, "That's me!" 




Monday, October 29, 2012

A Favorite Book, A New Word

It's hard to believe that John Michael is now old enough to listen to some of my favorite childhood stories.  Tonight he chose "Bread and Jam for Frances."  I love all of the songs she sings to her poached egg, breaded veal cutlet and when she is skipping rope. 

One of the funniest things I will always remember about this book - okay, now it's two, because I just remembered another - is that Gracie wanted a poached egg after we read it a few times.  And they are now one of her favorites!  Too funny that Gracie gets a new favorite food from a book about a picky eater!  Second funny thing I always think about when reading this book is from my childhood.  If you read the dedication, it is for "Julia, who always liked to practice with a string bean when she could" (okay, I put quotes but I'm paraphrasing.  The boy is asleep and I am not going in the room to retrieve the book for an accurate quote!).  My oldest sister is Julia, so we always got a kick out of that dedication. 

Anyhow, after giggling our way through the book, JM and I were talking about the nursery rhymes his class is going to recite on Wednesday (they have a Mother Goose program and party).  I got him to say a few, but then he was back to his perpetual favorite these days, the alphabet.  "Is the alphabet a nursery rhyme?" was his question.  Then he went back to singing it in his own special way - without all of the traditional 26 letters.  He thinks he only needs about 10 or 12 of them.  Anyhow, tonight he thought he should only have three - A, B, and Z.  So I said the only words we would have with that alphabet would be baz-zab.  To which he replied "Did I spell a word?" 

So then I suggested we try spelling C-A-T.  That one threw him for a loop since his sister walked into his room for a minute and distracted him.   So I said let's try an easy one ... D-O-G, dog.  So he repeated the letters D-O-G.  Yay!  We were making progress. 

Then JM said "Let's spell dot."  And I was just about to ask him if he knew what made the tttt sound, when he plowed ahead and said "DotCom, let's spell DotCom." 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Birthdays

Yes, there have been many birthdays around these parts that I haven't posted about.  So - beginning to catch up and so ya get an April birthday post.  In fact, everyone except for Mike is due a belated birthday post. And that's especially funny since he is perpetually trying to convince the kids that it's his birthday every month, if not every week. 

So - first up, JM!

And what better way to start off your 4th birthday than with a trip to Big Daddy's Donuts!  Woo-hoo! 

And the day only got better!  Look who arrived for the celebration:
(with J and Mimi, too).  It worked out wonderfully that two of the Wrabls were in town and could come over with Mimi to the party.  We put Mimi to work right away, baking the cake with JM (who is wearing "his" apron - one of the ones Grandma passed down to the kids).  When I was growing up, it was always specifically not allowed for the birthday person to be involved in the baking/icing of the cake. In our house, we seemed to have reversed that - the birthday kiddo always wants to bake, ice and decorate his/her own cake. 

And since I did most of the icing on this cake, JM took on candle duty:

And Clara would be upset if I didn't mention that the Thomas on top of the cake is HERS.  I had much more elaborate ideas for the cake, but looking at the railroad tracks I layed down, I think it's good I took the simple approach.  But I did really love the cake that had an extra half layer that they decorated as a tunnel and had Thomas coming out of that!  Maybe when he's 14 and I have had lots more time to practice.

At present time, JM had lots of help.  Thankfully, there wasn't too much fighting with his sis!  They managed to work almost everything out.  That's one of the best things about the kids getting older, we don't have to constantly intervene.  Especially when we are in the car, I have found that if I can just stand listening to the arguing for a little bit, a resolution will usually rise up out of it all.  And it's usually nothing like what I would have suggested.  In fact, when I might have suggested that somebody share a toy or play with a sibling for a few minutes, they might promise to do something for an hour or half a day, etc.  Of course, lots of times my patience doesn't last and I step in and draw the line!  I'm waiting for the invention of the chauffeur window divider that works in a family car at the press of a button - there's a million/billion? dollar invention. 



So we had a grand day celebrating JM turning 4.  He still wasn't quite sure about counting to four (we can do that now!) and it definitely took a few weeks (months?) of practicing holding up four fingers.  We had just managed to learn three a month or so before he turned 4.  This is what happens to the 3rd child when Mommy doesn't take as much time to teach these things!  But that's okay, JM might not have had time to learn them - he is so busy with his trains, his Dogtown stories (imaginary place that all of this dog friends - Barbar, Biscuit, Brown, Pal, Ollie, Ripa, etc. live and of course, drive trains), and zooming around on his plasma car or scooter.  Happy Birthday, JM!  May you always enjoy life so much and have such passion (trains!), Little Man.




Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Around the House

 Updates on everyone!

Gracie
In the last six weeks, Gracie has grown 1/2 an inch!  I wouldn't have believed it, but I am the one that measured her on Clara's birthday (8/19) and then on 10/2.  At least that explains the week that she just seemed to eat non-stop!  A big dinner, desert and then several snacks of nuts and craisins was her routine for a few days.  And I couldn't seem to pack enough in her lunch for school.  It's amazing that a body can actually grow that fast.
 
On the academic front, I am so proud of my Gracie - she is part of the Math Olympics team at school!  It is a math competition for third grade and up, and she qualified for it based on a test that everyone took.  She has never believed that she is good at math and is always saying how she doesn't like it.  Before the day of the test, she was a little worried, but I reminded her that this was just an extra activity and to just do her best on the test and not worry about the outcome. 

She was so happy the afternoon she told me that she had made the team - "I made Math Olympics!"  she said with a big smile on her face.  Then she told me that when they made the announcement in chapel, calling up the kids who had made Math Olympics, she didn't even hear them say her name (she thought they said Tracy) and her teacher had to nudge her and tell her to go up front. 

It was a great confidence booster for her.  I hope she enjoys the competition.  It's sometime in November, and I guess they usually have some practices before the actual competition.  Math was always my favorite subject, so it's nice to see her have a positive reaction to math!



 John Michael

Still as crazy about trains, he got a smile from the grownups in music class today.  The children get to choose a way to "play" their two wooden sticks.  JM demonstrated rubbing one across the other, so Miss Carol asked him what he would call that (most kids say "Rub").  But not John Michael - "Train Pistons!"  So we got to sing about "Pistons Pushing" while we rubbed our two sticks together.   

As we were heading to the car the other morning, I said to John Michael as we ran crazily across the parking lot together, hand in hand and laughing: "What am I going to do when you are in school and I am by myself?"

JM's reply: "Go shopping!"

What a great response, right?  So then I proceeded to ask him what I should shop for, "Toys!" was the answer.  (I told him I thought maybe I should go shopping for myself, but he didn't think that was a good idea.)

I laughed and didn't think much about it.  Apparently, he took it a little more seriously.  As he was climbing into the van after school, his first question was "What toys did you get me while you were shopping?"

Clara
Our resident spelling bee practice maniac!  She won her grade's spelling bee last year and is determined to do it again.  She's had the practice list of words for less than a week and I think we have practiced over 200 words.  And amazingly, she has gotten about 90% of them right on the first try.  It is also amazing to see the difference from last year.  Having never spelled words out loud before last year, it was hard just to make that transition.  We spent a lot of time last year working on being able to spell the word orally - I had kind of forgotten what a process that is, but you have to be able to think the letters, keep them all in your mind and not lose track of where you are.  And during the spelling bee, it is very strict - once you have said a letter, you can't 'take it back.'  You can ask to start over, but you have to use all of the same letters you have already said aloud.  Anyhow, we will see how she does this year - the spelling bee is on Thursday, November 1st.  (Gracie is also planning to compete in her grade's spelling bee - she's just not as fanatical about practicing.  She's reserving most of her energy for the Speech Meet which will be November 3rd.)



Me
Helping the girls study for the spelling bee made me realize just how much older they are getting.  There were actually words on both of their spelling lists that I didn't know and had to look up.  I felt a little better after I looked them up - at least one was an arcane, spelling bee, crossword type word that is not really used day-to-day.  Abaft or elide, anyone? 

Oh - and I just finished reading one of "Gracie's" books (and enjoyed it!).