Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Clara the conversationalist

Today we were at the pharmacy picking up yet another prescription for John Michael. Last week it was decongestant, Monday it was eyedrops, today ... antibiotics. And he's using Clara's meds from last year for the nebulizer. Poor guy - he's just had a cold (or maybe RSV). Now he's got a wheeze, two ear infections and we're trying to get his blocked tear duct to open so they don't have to open it for him in a few weeks (yikes - don't think about that if you are squeamish like me!). Anyhow, JM is on the mend, and I was really planning to write about Clara!

We go to a local pharmacy which I love because it is not nearly as busy as Walgreens or CVS and we always see the same people working there. Also, I think it reminds me of the pharmacy we always use to go to when I was growing up (I think it even smells the same...)

Anyhow, the girls always think it is a treat to go inside, which we did today so we could wait for JM's antibiotic. Well, we were trooping back from the bathroom (quite a crew with all 4 of us) and one of the ladies noticed Gracie & Clara's boots and commented on them.

"Oh I love your boots!"
Clara - "They're frog boots." (kind of hard to miss that point - they are bright green with frog faces). "Gracie's are cats." (again, kind of hard to miss - hers are pink with cat faces).

Anyhow, this started about a five minute discussion about boots, John Michael, how the girls helped out with their brother ("we feed him"), what JM wore on his feet ("soft boots"), and more about feet ("I'm wearing socks.").

I was very surprised Clara was so chatty - when she doesn't know someone, she usually is very shy & won't usually say a word to them. I guess maybe the "shy" phase is over!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Now I'm ready for the Christmas Review!

Okay, so it might be a little strange to go back to Christmas, but I always intended to do a post about Christmas 2008 and wasn't in the mood immediately following the holiday.

So we were lucky and got to have 2 Christmas celebrations (and actually, we still have one more to go - but that won't be until Valentine's Day!). Our first celebration was actually on Christmas and at our house.

The girls managed to stay in bed until a semi-reasonable hour (6:30) and then came in to get us. Well, they were pretty excited to see all of their gifts. We let them look through their stockings and start on some candy.
While the girls were sampling candy from their stockings, JM got a nice new bath toy. Gracie had been very concerned that Santa might bring candy for JM - good thing Santa had on his thinking cap!

Then they really wanted to start opening gifts, but we reminded them that we were going to go to church first. So, they took it upon themselves to start sorting all the gifts into piles.

Now, since Gracie is just starting to "read" letters and Clara really doesn't yet, the piles were quite interesting! But it kept them occupied until it was time to get some breakfast and get dressed and head to church. They were looking forward to the backpack homily (kid's homily) at church, so that was an added incentive to get them out the door.

We were able to dive into presents when we got home. I can't even remember in what order things were opened - we tried to have them go one at a time so we could actually see what they were opening. Clara's main goal this year was just to keep opening present after present. Sometimes we could get her to stop for a photo!

I think Gracie actually wanted to look at what she was getting.

Every now & then Mike & I got to open a present, too.

We were lucky & John Michael took a nap during this main part of the present opening. Otherwise I imagine he would have been "helping" with the opening and having a special little breakfast of gift wrap and bows. Plus, I can't imagine trying to keep track of him as well as what the girls were doing and what they were opening and who it was from! It made me a little crazy (Mike would say that was an understatement)!

We took a break for some lunch when JM woke up & then we let him in on the whole unwrapping thing. He didn't really think much of it - except for the ribbons - good for chewing on! But he got lots of fun presents, too.

Then we went outside to enjoy the beautiful Christmas day weather (and let the girls try out their new Scream Machines ... again)

Later Mimi & Pap came over & the girls really enjoyed getting to see them. Gracie showed Pap everything she had opened
, while Clara told (and showed) Mimi all about her new video game.

JM even managed to get some time with Mimi after we all had something to eat.

It was a very Merry Christmas!

I was grateful we all got to be together and that the girls (and John Michael) had such a good time. At the end of the day, we were all pretty worn out and bedtime couldn't come soon enough!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Farewell to Junior

We had to say goodbye to Junior yesterday. He had been living with us for the last year and a half. He was Scott's dog since around age 2 and we think he was about 13 years old. He had slowed down a lot in the last month, so this wasn't totally unexpected. He had enjoyed lots of good dog years.

We never realized it would be so quiet around here without him. No little tick, tick, tick as his nails clicked across the floor; slurp, slurp, slurp from the water bowl (he loved his water!); and of course no "ahhh - ooooo" when something interesting is going on outside.

So, here's a look back at Junior, starting in 1998:

The "gang" - Hoss, Jr, Snow and Sandy(not pictured - Ripley)

Junior inside looking calm, but don't let that fool you - in his younger days he was quite active most of the time! We finally learned if we kept a leash on him (inside) he would settle down.

Christmas 2000 - Mike & I had just gotten married & had a full house of dogs to keep us company for the holidays.

The Beagle Boys! Hoss (red) and Junior (blue)

Late 2004 - Junior came to stay with us for a few months while Scott worked in the area. Junior was always very good & patient with Gracie. Junior starting to show quite a bit of white on his face - he had something about him that kids really liked.

Another of the "gang"

We visited Scott in Nebraska in the fall of 2005. Here are Junior & Snow enjoying an afternoon sun nap.

Summer 2007 - Junior settling in with Elvis.

Clara loved having a dog more her size.

She liked to hang out with him, sitting with him here in what would become "his" spot in the hallway.

A photo taken by either Clara or Gracie - Junior was one of their favorite picture subjects!

Junior & Elvis playing in December of 2008

Junior was always so tolerant and so careful around the kids.

A last look - good bye Junior.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Quite the ordeal

We (Gracie & I) posted about JM eating his first Cheerios a few weeks ago. Now we've got some video of the boy in action.

How many calories for all that effort?

He walks????

So this is what John Michael was busy doing after dinner.

As you can see, he is quite excited. Both girls loved playing in the Tupperware drawer and JM thinks it's a blast, too.

We aren't sure exactly what happened (Mike was doing dishes, the girls and I were working on a project in the living room), but Mike thinks he took his first, holding onto something steps tonight. He looked around and the drawer was closed & John Michael was still standing up. Conclusion . . . he must have "walked" forward with the drawer.


It's been one of those weeks when I have been amazed by what my kids can do. Since I always seem to get caught up in all the day to day stuff (and sometimes all the stuff they *won't* do), it was really nice to have a few moments of "Wow - that's so neat!"

Amazing Moment #1
So this all started on Monday of this week when Clara wanted me to show her how to write her name. She hasn't asked about this in a long while, so I thought it was interesting that she was asking. She was using the whiteboard on the easel at the time, so she had me help her by guiding her hand. Then she erased it and wanted to do it again. I did again with her then offered to draw dots so that she could practice on her own. I also wrote her name at the top of the board so she could look at it and see what she was trying to write. So she practiced a few times & then it was on to bigger and better things.

Later that day, Gracie had homework to do for school. John Michael was napping (yay!), so I asked Clara if she wanted to do a workbook or color at the table with us while Gracie was doing her homework. She decided on a Pooh Bear workbook. So we had a nice, peaceful time where I was able to work with both girls. Gracie really only had one sheet she had to complete for school, but they have optional worksheets and she wanted to do some of those. We ended up working for about 45 minutes. Clara was just flying through her workbook pages - at one point she said she wanted to do the whole workbook. I suggested that maybe that was a bit much for today (it's about 30 pages). Anyhow, at the top of every page she had me make dots for her name so that she could trace her letters. I think she must have completed about 9 workbook pages that afternoon.

The following afternoon, we were driving back from music class in Fort Worth, and Clara started asking how to spell her name. She was using a little notebook & pen to practice her "writing." After I had told her all her letters (with a few questions along the way about what an "A" or "R" looked like), she said "I am soooo proud of myself. I wrote my name all by myself! Look, Mommy!" As anxious as I was to see what she had really written, I decided keeping the van on the interstate was probably more important. So I told her I would look as soon as we got home.

When we got home, I asked to see the notebook. There were two lines: CAR CAR. Okay, so we had missed a few letters in "Clara" but I couldn't believe that she could write that after so little practice! Amazing!

Amazing Moment #2
This Amazing Moment was brought to us by Gigi! She is so busy these days with all these ideas, plans, parties, etc. I never know what she is up to (although, thankfully, it is not usually trouble!). Today she made dog "collars" for her stuffed animals using her bead kit. Except for exploding all over the kitchen floor several times, they were really cute. But back to the amazing moment - last Sunday, we were all outside playing and Gracie started inquiring about what picture we would like her to draw. She told us she was going to make a book of drawings. So a little later, she came outside to the swingset, climbed up to the fort platform and gave us a presentation of her "book" (yes, she fashioned the book part -clothespins- all on her own) . Check out the pictures below; I've captioned them based on what she told us:

The front of our house. Those are bricks at the bottom.

On the left, our swingset, and on the right, the front yard and porch swing.

This one is a little tricky if you have never seen our furniture. These are small, open bookcase/end tables with two cubbies at the top and one at the bottom. When commenting on this drawing, Gigi told us that she was going to start drawing everyday things she saw around the house.

A "Bonus" picture - does anyone remember Gracie and her "bonus story"? This wasn't in her book, but she drew them a few weeks ago.

Ernie & Prairie Dawn


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Shoes and Souls

It was a nice day here at the ranch (house). And as usual, there were some funny moments with the kiddos. It seems to have been a Clara day - she's the one I have stories about tonight.

Sunday Morning
I was helping her put her boots on before Sunday School this morning, and I was just chatting away, probably trying to distract her from some previous upset (hard to believe, but I don't remember what particular crisis was in progress...) So as we were zipping up her boots (which are super cute - pink with pom-poms!), I said "Maybe you can show Miss Mary (Sunday School teacher) your new boots!"

"Moooom, Miss Mary doesn't look at our shoes. We have lots of other things to do. She doesn't care what shoes we wear. "

Thank you my ever so serious 3-year old for the reminder about humility!

Later that day:
Clara was in the playroom, getting her beloved doll, Beemie, ready for a trip to the park. She was busy chattering away about what she needed to get ready to take to the park. Beemie needed to be sure and have some shoes to take, because shoes are her favorite. Clara said, "she has a thousand pairs." Wow! Watch out Ameldo!

Maybe dolls get to be a lot more concerned about what they were on their feet...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

More of Baby's "Firsts"

When we went for John Michael's well-child check-up last week, our pediatrician told me that we should start him on some finger foods. I probably was not quite ready to do that (even if JM is ready!), but there were little ears in the room, too and they convinced Daddy that he should try Cheerios last night!

"John Michael liked the Cheerios!" - Gracie

He is working on the coordination to get that Cheerio out of his fist and into his mouth. When he can get it pinched between his thumb & finger he really likes to crunch it with his front teeth. It was making him smile today at lunchtime! (Yes, Mommy got brave & let him have Cheerios with all three of his meals today).

Next, John Michael had another "first" this afternoon. It was a beautiful day and John Michael got to swing in the bucket swing! Both girls took a turn pushing him. He was more interested in trying to chew on the rope at first, but once Clara pushed him higher (than Mommy was advising), he really enjoyed it.

The last "first" of the day came at dinner time. John Michael got the hang of drinking out of his sippy cup all by himself! He was really thirsty, apparently, too because he kept drinking & drinking.

It's amazing how quickly he is changing these days - I don't remember it being quite this fast with the girls!

Okay, one more first - Gracie was the photographer for this blog post & co-author. Thank you Gracie! She says that's enough & time to post it! (I think all my posts would be briefer if she were in charge - must get that from her Daddy!)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Funny Daddy!

This is something that Mike has started doing at night that always makes me laugh. He's great about being the one that 99% of the time bathes the girls and John Michael. So that leaves him responsible for getting John Michael into his nighttime sleeper and entertaining him until I am ready to take him for his last meal of the day.

This is JM last night right after Daddy got him ready for bed:

And then, about 2 seconds later:

Thank you Mikey for always being such a good sport & keeping us laughing!

New tricks and more new tricks!

Well, it sounds like I might be talking about the family pet, but no ... it's our little 9 month old. I can barely keep up with all the changes he is going through right now.

One of the best (for me) is that since New Year's Eve he has only been waking up once a night (maybe he made his own resolution?). Thank heavens - I am really enjoying getting 4-6 hours of sleep straight at night.

What else has he been up to? Well, let's just say about everything! He had a well-child checkup and is at 19lbs. I guess he's slowed down a little in the height and weight department. As for his head size, Dr. Phillips said, "well, we know he's always had a big head." Which was funny to me because after Clara, John Michael seems to just have a "normal" sized head.

Two days ago, JM decided he should start pulling up on things other than his popcorn tin and activity table. Here's a shot of one of the things he chose:

And yes, that little hand is going bang, bang, bang on the top of the dollhouse! He was so funny after he got himself up there. He had been playing on the floor for almost an hour at this point, so he was really tired. He started getting upset, but was still standing up at the dollhouse. I went over to see what was the problem. Nothing seemed to be wrong, but his legs were looking shaky. I tried to get him to sit down, after prying his fingers free from the roof of the house (nothing wrong with that grip). Finally, I got him to sit down in front of the dollhouse, but he was still just as upset sitting down. So I stood him back up (on those shaky legs again). He stopped screaming, so I guess he was happier! He's very determined to stand for as long as he can. He doesn't really have to be doing anything, it's just like he wants to win the prize for the longest standing!

He surprised us that same day with another new trick. Gracie, Clara and I were reading a book on the couch and I guess John Michael was feeling a little left out on the floor. Suddenly there was a little fussing noise and then - Surprise! Two little blue eyes appeared over the edge of the coffee table. He was very proud of himself!

Finally, one last new pull-up trick. Yes, it's been a long time coming but he got frustrated enough at "nap" time the other day to finally stand up in his crib. Needless to say, it wasn't really much of a "nap."

I actually got some video of this next new thing, so enjoy!

And the last new thing .... will be posted tomorrow! Gracie is going to help me with it. She said she would type if I tell her the letters to use. I suggested maybe I could type & she could tell me what to say!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

What we do in the car / what you can do with a laundry basket

I'm still writing about pictures from last year, but some of these were too funny.

When we go on car trips, the kids have to find ways to entertain themselves. We have lots of toys in the car, but we don't have a video player. It's the one thing where we have really stuck with our decision about no tv & I'm quite glad (at home, we seem to be on a kick of watching too much, especially when you combine it with computer time!)

So here are some of the things the girls did on the last few trips in the car:

Happy campers, hanging out talking & eating. Eating is always a good diversion! Plus, we do let them listen to their music & audio books. We finally got smart & adjusted the sound so it is all in the back of the van (some of the music will drive you nutty!).

The trip to Amarillo can be a long drive & we try to time it so Clara can get a nap on the way up. But those days are probably coming to an end - we've given up on naps at home these days!

Oh so serious Gracie. Drawing or writing in her notebook. It's amazing how she can curl herself up in that car seat!

Clara has woken up from her nap, Gracie is done with her notebook & now they are really having to stretch for entertainment. Can you figure out what Gracie is doing?

If you couldn't tell what Gracie was doing in that last picture, just take a look at Clara. Yes, they were having a bubble blowing contest (and they weren't chewing gum!).

Now, not to ignore John Michael (I don't have pictures of him in the car, he is still facing the wrong way for that - plus, he was happy just playing with his taggie blanket & sleeping on these trips), here's what we could do with him a few months ago when we wanted to make sure we didn't lose track of him. (It doesn't work anymore, Mike tried this morning & he was ready to go up and over the edge, even in a bigger size basket).

I love the look on his face in this one!

Anyhow, I doubt there will be anymore containing him unless he is in his crib. He wants to go up, up and away! His favorite way to sit is with his legs folded underneath him, so that he can instantly spring up on his knees (J&S might remember that I used to sit like that & it used to drive them crazy). He likes to sit like that so he can be up as high as possible as quickly as possible. The popcorn in that he pulled up on has become his favorite for leaning on & over (he has a long torso & likes to try and reach for things in front of him (and even on the floor) while he is draped over the can). He also likes to push it around the floor, kind of like a walker, but he doesn't quite have the whole "I need to move my feet, too" thing down yet. He's a goofy one.

I'm hoping to blog tomorrow night with a report on how he did in church. He was quite vocal this past week when they were singing Christmas carols . . . tune in (ha, sorry about the pun) to see what he does this week!