Monday, December 14, 2009


December brought snow to Texas. Well, at least snow showers. And at a perfect time - we discovered the big flakes just as we were heading out to take Gracie to school.

Everyone (even Elvis) got a few minutes to enjoy the flurries.

I don't remember if she said it tasted like chocolate or vanilla!

Clara's picture was snapped when she was getting a little cold, but she had a grand time, too!

It was John Michael's first time to really "experience" snow. And that was a happy boy! Joy!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Stuff

So I saw JM jump, jump, jumping around Gracie & Clara's room tonight & I realized I should note that new achievement. He gets the honor of being the youngest to learn to jump. He beat Clara by just a few months, but Gracie by almost a whole year. Poor Gracie - Mommy was a little overprotective and didn't like that whole jumping thing!!!

On a funny note, JM was jumping because Clara had skinned her knee earlier in the evening and was insisting on hopping everywhere (yet it was okay to sit on her knees at dinner time and at the computer ... hmmmm).

And Clara went from one monkey bar to the next. She's frustrated that she can't move on to the third one yet, but I told her to keep trying. To which she responded, "I'll probably be *six* before I can do it." Oh the woes of a four-year old.

No funnies on Gracie right now. The poor girl is sick again, so it's probably harder to be entertaining for your parents when you are not feeling well!

Christmas Tree Decorating

Even though we got the tree up nice and early (Thanksgiving weekend, can you believe it?), this post is a little late. But at least it's still before Christmas!

As usual, I got the fun task of actually sticking the tree together - I thought maybe Clara might stick it out and help me, but those branches are awfully prickly and tricky to get into those slots on the tree. So I finally got it all up & then I took a break. When I next saw the tree, it had been decorated with the first round of ornaments and I got a good chuckle.

Here's a sampling of the decorating mania. I'll post later with the final version of the tree.

Everyone was a helper. It was hard to concentrate on hanging that candy cane with those cute dogs around. It was tempting to stop and push the button and make them bark "Jingle Bells."

Number 2 with the 2-handed approach to make sure she gets to hang her fair share of candy canes.

Our tall girl getting them up as high as she can.

The "finished" product (at least for that night).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Gracie had another program at her school last Friday and it was quite the show! Gracie had been telling us for several weeks that she was going to be the Turkey, but I didn't really know what to expect. Watching her walk in (picture below) was too funny.

And then throughout the story she was quite funny. If you have the patience to wait for it to load, this is about a 50 second clip of the performance.

After they finished the Thanksgiving program, they also sang several songs. Gracie got to stand front and center for that part as well & she was quite at home up there on the stage! It was lots of fun to watch. It also made me really appreciate how easy going she is about all these performances. She's never nervous or self-conscious (sp?) and really enjoys herself.

Here's a picture of her class after the performance. Simple costumes, but they all looked really cute!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's our special greeting to you (courtesy of Gracie's Thanksgiving Program at school):

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Things

I'm a few days behind on this news, but better late then never.

On Friday, while her big sis was at school, Clara learned how to jump rope! She was so excited.

She beat Gracie to the punch on this skill and it's nice to see her have a chance to learn something first! She tried to "teach" Gracie later that afternoon, but Gracie didn't have a lot of patience for that. But then over the weekend (after a little talk with Gracie about how nice it would be to let her little sister get to help her for once), she let Clara help her practice a little bit.

Who would think it would take so much effort and practice to get that rope around and under those feet? I didn't get any pictures yet, but I'll try for some this week.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Indian PowWow

Last week at school, Gracie studied Indians (or Native Americans if you want to be PC, but I'll just be sticking with Indians for convenience and ease). She learned an amazing amount in a week of study (and for only three hours a day, including recess, snack and chapel time)! JM, Clara and I got to go to her classroom on Friday for the PowWow. It was tons of fun!

JM & Clara had the best time just playing in two of the kindergarten "centers." I almost didn't know Clara was there during the two hours - she was content playing and entertaining herself! JM kept checking in with me, looking at what the "big" kids were doing and eating the occasional bead (yes, bead, but it was teeny, tiny - he was just too quick for me to get it out of his mouth!).

I snapped the picture below shortly after we got to the classroom.

JM was *so* pleased to get to play in the room. Every day we walk Gracie in, he is sure he needs to get done & play, and he was thrilled to finally get the chance. And boy did he play hard. We left the school around noon, drove the seven minutes home and he was sacked out when we got home & didn't blink an eye when I carried him into his room (I don't ever remember that happening!)

I thought I was just going to watch my two youngest and get to see what the PowWow was all about, but it was all hands on deck. I worked with another Mom at the rainstick making station, and some other Moms were able to help me keep an eye on John Michael (the bead incident happened when he wandered over to check on me!)

Here's the other Mom putting a name on a rainstick and Gracie in the background working on her teepee. They decorated them with some of the Indian pictures they had learned that week.

I love the Indian name Gracie chose - "Little Heart" it is just right for her!

She loved her wampum (she said she figured each "bead" was $10, so she had $100) and her headdress. Notice what she is wearing? We got use that Indian dress that I made again & get a little more use out of it!

They also got to watch their teacher make stick bread (fried dough, basically) and then eat it and some venison jerky. Of course Gracie loved both. In fact, the whole class couldn't get enough, especially of the jerky!

The PowWow ended with what I would call a "song," but Gracie kept telling me, "No! It was the way they spoke." So who knows, but it was very cute & impressive that they all knew the "words" and did accompanying motions.

I am constantly amazed at how much her teacher can pack into a day for them. In the 2 hours we were there, I learned a few things, too. Did you know that in tribes that used teepees, Indian babies were strapped to boards and then those boards were hung on a rope high in the teepee to keep them safe from animals at night?

Finally, a sweet picture of our "Little Heart:"

Happy Halloween!

We had a great Halloween this year. The girls were so excited and it stopped raining a few days before the 31st and things were able to dry out so we could decorate one day and then trick-or-treat the next.

We always try to get an early start & go around the block so we can get back and hand out some candy, too. We started around 6:30 this year and it was still light, but it took us about an hour to get around the block and it was definitely dark by the time we got home.

The kids (Gracie, Clara and JM/Mike) got so much candy! The girls couldn't carry their bags the whole way because they were too heavy. Our neighbors love to give out treats - one gave out a gallon size ziploc bag full of candy and treats to each child!

Here's a look at our decorations and the kiddos in their costumes. You will have to look carefully for JM. First, he didn't want to hold still and then he got strapped in the stroller. But he did stay happily in the stroller the whole way around the block - I don't think we'll be so lucky next year.

And here's our little Indian Princess, Pocahontas:

Pocahontas joins her friend, Glenda, the good witch (Clara decided to go opposite of last year's Wicked Witch of the West!)

And you can sort of see the decorations in the background.

And unbelievably, there's a picture of me this Halloween:

(I'm supposed to be a witch if you can't tell... I decided not just to act the part, but dress that way, too!)

Almost home - those legs and arms were starting to give out!

When we got home, the first order of business for the girls was to get ready and hand out candy. Here they are, manning their stations.

And I had time to get all of the jack-o-lanterns glowing - Gracie's is on the left and Clara's creation is on the right.

And poor JM had to get ready for bed. He was quite a sad boy - can you see that tear on his cheek? He knew he was missing out on some fun. Maybe next year, little man.

Check out that spider in the background - the girls and I made those out of cardboard, construction paper, red felt and black plastic strapping (for the legs).

And finally, after making sure there were no more trick-or-treaters, it was time to check out the loot!

That's not even all of Gracie's - she had another pile off to the other side already.

Showing off her favorite! Although I think she might revise it now, she loves all of the "Reese's" candies she got!

Clara's candy. She's not a fan of chocolate, so Daddy and Gracie got lots of her rejects.

She did love her fairy card game, though. (And all the other non-chocolate candies, of course!)

And it was finally bedtime around 9:30 - yikes! Thank goodness we got an extra hour of sleep before church the next morning!

New Stuff

I meant to post this last week, but as usual, things got away from me & I'm just getting to it today.

We had some major accomplishments at our house last week.

On Monday, Clara did a "belly flip" at Little Gym (that's when you are holding yourself up at the bar at your waist and you spin forward and all the way around)! She got stuck halfway on the first one and needed some help, but after that she did four or five on her own (and then repeated it again in class just yesterday).

On Tuesday, Gracie succeeded in tying her own shoes! Her kindergarten teacher has been working with them on this (I had tried, but we had only gotten the first knot down), and Gracie finally did it all on her own! She was very proud. And she even ties double knots since she has extra long laces on her favorite school shoes. This week, she tried to advance to tying Clara's shoes but that proved to be a little more difficult than she expected and I was called in to complete the job.

And I know I should have a matching day entry for JM, but it's hard to keep track of all of his new tricks. Here's a summary of the new ones I can think of off the top of my head. He can almost jump (one foot goes up and then the other) when he's on the ground and give him a bed and he bounces away (yes, we let them jump on beds). Sunday he started practicing his "gu" sounds in the car. He can say & sign "ease" (for please) and he can also say quite a garbled "thank you" (na-noo). Oh - he's got a new favorite vegetable. Broccoli! And last, he's quite a maniac on the tricycle (it's a low one) - he doesn't pedal yet, but that doesn't slow him down. He just pushes his feet along and steers in circles around the driveway.

And Mike & I - well, we're just busy keeping up with the crew. No time for new tricks for us!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gracie & Mother Goose

So today was Gracie's second time to perform in the Mother Goose program at her school. But this year she was a kindergartener! (Last year in preK was the first performance.) The kids all got to pick what they wanted to dress up as & Gracie chose "Mary" as in "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

Here's her whole class. Some of the funnier ones were the 3 blind mice (on the back row) and the spiders (in the back row, too) for Little Miss Muffet. Gracie's lamb (for the show) is next to her in the front row.

So it was a really neat performance. The kindergartners put on black shirts and white gloves and used a special light to perform "Itsy, Bitsy Spider." It was really neat looking and she had lots of fun doing it.

Then they each did a performance for their particular nursery rhyme. Here are some pictures from Gracie's:

This is when the lamb is following her to school.

This was so cute - this was the part in the rhyme when they say "that was against the rule (for the lamb to follow Mary to school." Apparently, Gracie had quite the look on her face. Her teacher said "Gracie was a riot with that pointy finger and funny face!" And that's the Gracie we know and love!

She had so much fun doing it & she just loves it. Even though she is not the most outgoing, she never gets nervous about these performances and really enjoys them.

And for Gracie, I have to put in a picture of her with one of her good friends in the class, Kareth (she was the kitten who had lost her mitten). She and Gracie are great buddies & almost always play "kittens" at recess.

Weekend Visit

So last weekend we got to visit with Aunt J, Uncle Chumby and Cousin Alex. My kiddos were so excited! They could hardly wait to get to Mimi & Pap's (where everybody gathered).

The big kids were very excited and immediately started tearing around the house. I heard Clara say several times, "Slow down Alex, I want to play with you!" Chase, snipping ghosts (with the play plastic scissors) and hide and seek were the fun games of the day.

Here's Clara trailing after her adored cousin, Alex!

Gracie had to chill out sometimes:

JM couldn't keep up with all the running, but he did find a few things to do - filling bags, playing with the school bus, going up and down and up and down the stairs.

After we all ate a scrumptious lunch, JM (and Pap, I think) headed off for nap time. J & I took the kids for a red light, yellow light, green light walk to the park. We played for a while on the slide and swings, then took a walk in the surrounding natural area and then headed back to Mimi & Pap's. But before we got to the road, the kiddos all decided to run up and down a steep hill. Alex actually suggested it and then my two girls followed. All seemed fine and they were having a blast when all of a sudden I hear Clara crying out. It took a few moments to figure out what she was moaning, but it was "Disgusting, disgusting, disgusting ..." And she wouldn't say anything else. Well, we've had so much rain and the poor girl was wearing sandals and hit a muddy spot on the hill and got her feet (and part of her pants) completely covered in mud. I felt sorry for her, but it was pretty funny! Two seconds later, Gracie wiped out (in her nice church outfit, of course) in the mud as well, but she managed to get a good portion of her white shirt all muddy! Alex was able to remain upright and mud-free.

We got back to the house and my girls got an early bath so they could be mud free. Then JM decided to wake up and join the crew again, and he even managed to snag some all-boy time with Alex. If you can't tell from the pictures below, he just loved it!

Look at those handsome, happy, musical boys!

Well, the day finally ended and we got home with three sad, but sound asleep kiddos (Clara kept saying "But I don't want to leave." Even when she was being transferred from car to bed!). Clara was so worn out from the fun that she was asleep before we left Mimi & Pap's subdivision.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Amazing Toddler

So - do you think a toddler doesn't pay much attention to what you do? Or that a toddler might not know what they want? Well, I don't think we would need many studies to prove those to be untrue at our house.

I came home with the girls the other night and got to hear quite a story from Mike. Here it is:

John Michael and the girls had eaten an early dinner so the girls could go to their swimming lesson. Mike met us at the gym and watched JM while the girls swam and I worked out. Then Mike & JM headed home. The girls & I got home after their swimming lesson & they had desert and headed to bed. Then I noticed an opened can of fruit cocktail on the counter. I commented to Mike, "Oh, I guess you fed John Michael some fruit cocktail (all the while thinking that was kind of an odd choice for a before bed snack)?" "Well," Mike replied "I didn't actually choose it." Apparently, JM had found the can opener (I had noticed the stool under the drawer with the can opener), taken it to the pantry, gotten out the fruit cocktail and tried to use the can opener to get that can open! So Mike decided he better have that for a snack.

This was pretty amazing to me. I didn't even know that JM knew we used the can opener for the fruit cocktail, and I certainly didn't think he knew where the can opener was (especially since I just moved it to a different drawer a few weeks ago & I can't always find it).

At least he can't operate the can opener . . . yet. We'll really be in trouble then!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's New - JM

So apparently JM is now moving so fast (almost running these days) that I can't get any pictures of him. I thought I had some, but when I wrote the first What's new post I got to the end and realized that all the pictures were of the girls!

JM is quite the mover these days - he's really not happy if he has to sit still anywhere for too long (church is so fun right now!) and his favorite sign (which looks like he's flapping his arms like wings) is "play!"

He's also becoming quite the protective brother. On several occasions, Clara has been crying and he has come running to check on her and has also run to get her blanket and bring it to her (she always brings him his blanket when he is upset). Tonight he found her crying and tried out one of his newest tricks - trying to blow a kiss. He doesn't really have it done - he can make the "smack" but then doesn't do the blow it off your hand thing. But it's the thought that counts.

And with that in mind, I have to recount a story from this past week. Clara had fallen and was crying, crying. I had gone over to sit with her and JM came running to see her. Next, he ran and pulled out the timeout stool. Well, Clara had been in time out just the day before for something or other and I guess JM heard more crying and figured "timeout." (Since that's typically Clara's reaction when she is in timeout!) When I stopped laughing, I asked John Michael to go and get Clara's blanket instead - and amazingly, he came out from her bedroom with it about a minute later!

JM & I also survived his first haircut. I hadn't realized quite how long it had gotten in back (the only part that got cut). With Gracie (whose hair was almost just the same), of course it didn't matter, so I didn't really think about it. Someone at Little Gym made a comment and I realized that he probably didn't need an inch and a half of hair (wispy though it is!) hanging over his collar. So I snipped it off in the bathtub that night while Clara tried to distract him (which was semi-successful).

Finally, here's his favorite song:

What's New - Gracie & Clara

When it's not raining here, we've been having beautiful weather. Gracie had some "homework" to do the other day, so we grabbed her stuff and headed outside.

Clara spent the time demonstrating her new trick on the monkey bars.

I was able to teach her how to get back to the slide landing that she launches herself from, instead of having to scream for a grown-up to help her when she wanted down.

Gracie finished cutting her pictures out and then she and Clara goofed around on their "new" swingset.

Thank you Daddy - we love having such a stable and safe place to play!

Gracie got to be out of uniform for school last week, so she got to wear her Halloween "outfit." I bought the tights for her at my JBF sale and wasn't sure if she would wear them, but she loves them - yay! Check out the crazy outfit:

That's a pumpkin glitter shirt, a bow with spiders, orange and black stripey tights and she decided on the saddle shoes to top it all off! Watch out world - here comes my fashionista! Gracie has really come into her own lately. She's super helpful with her younger siblings and is much more independent about lots of things - playing, choosing clothes/dressing, getting ready for bed. It's great to see, but kind of sad sometimes, too!

And here's my Clara-bear. This is a look she seems to be sporting more often these days. She's got quite a serious side to her.

I realize more and more after seeing the struggles Clara has with different things how easy going Gracie is most of the time. But Clara has had some really good days lately, playing with JM while Gracie is at school and really involving him and taking the time to play with him instead of just playing around him or trying to keep him from playing with her things.

Clara loves to help out - she's happiest if I'm doing something "interesting" and she can participate. So here she is helping me with one of my latest projects:

Yes - that's black paint. It won't be the final color, but I'm trying to make a magnetic wall. We'll see what the end result is - hopefully I will be posting a picture of a lovely yellow wall covered with kid art held up by magnets!

Gracie & Clara have become quite the cooking team. We made Snickerdoodles a few weeks ago and it only took about fifteen minutes to get everything measured and mixed. Last week we made "Halloween Custard" (aka, pumpkin pie mix cooked in muffin tins without the crust.) Gracie is working on learning all the different markings on the measuring spoons and cups and Clara is quite the mixer and good at knowing how things go together and in what order. In fact the other night, she told me how to make the couscous!

And finally, we're all getting ready for Halloween.

Decorations are getting put up . . . and taken down . . . and put back up . . .

Two girls that *love* Halloween!

Clara tried on her costume tonight and added a "modern" touch (the sunglasses). She wasn't happy when I started laughing. But I think I've convinced her that her costume might go over better without the glasses!

So can you guess who she is supposed to be? And it's not a princess!