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!


So we made our annual pilgrimage to Rusk, Texas. You might ask, why would you make a 3-hour drive on Sunday? And the answer of course, is Thomas (and Cousin Alex)!

The girls were so excited when we finally got there.

Here's Clara running down to the station. It was a perfect day - no rain (unusual for us lately!) and in the high 60's.

The girls did some stamping, JM played with trains and we waited until it was time to board the train. Gracie also did a chalk drawing. Can you guess what that is??

And here they are on board (Mike, JM & I were still getting ready to get on the train):

Everyone on board & waiting to pull out of the station. It was about a 30 minute trip - forward for half and then backward the same way for the second half. But the kids don't mind - they like all the singing (so loud!) and talking about Thomas.

After riding Thomas, there are lots of fun (free!) activities to do. The favorite for the big kids this year seemed to be the "gold" dig.

Essentially, they had buried lots of different "gold" pieces in tubs of sand and there were sifters and shovels so the kids could find them.

Clara called them "sand dollars" for a while and I also heard the terms "rocks," "crystals," and "gold" floated around. JM got in on the action, too, but thank goodness he didn't amass a collection to take home. Clara and Gracie still have their treasured "rocks" (as they are now known) sitting on the bathroom counter. They are great fun to wash, examine under the light or in the sun in the car, and play with in the bathtime. (Maybe J will comment and let us know what's happened to Alex's collection . . . )

The big kids also liked the bounce house and feeding the animals at the petting zoo. The funniest part of the petting zoo were the two baby goats. (kids?) They were out of the pen for a while and John Michael was having a grand time trying to decide if he wanted to really be close to them or not. He would get close and one of them would spring up a few feet in the air (I didn't realize they could jump so high - it was pretty amazing & funny!) I'm surprised at how brave Clara was about feeding them. I never know what to expect with her!

We had a great time & it was fantastic to see the gang from Houston, too. The girls nicknamed Uncle Jamie - Uncle "Chumby" and I think it is going to stick. We'll have to see. They thought it was hysterical. He was making them crack up all day by calling them by different names.

And even though this was at the beginning of our Thomas day, I thought this summed up how we all felt as we were leaving:

By the time we got home, we were able to carry three sound asleep children in to bed.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

On our own

Well - we're down to a two person (and a dog) household this week. Mike took the girls to San Antonio to visit Uncle Scott, so John Michael, Elvis and I are holding down the fort.

I thought JM would be missing his "isseees" like crazy, but I think I was wrong. He's been loving all the attention, and I've had a chance to remember why I call him "Sunshine!" He is an awfully cheery boy.

We went to our city's Founder's Day celebration this morning. It was cold (51), but I made JM keep his hat on and let him walk so he would stay warm. We had a good time just watching everything and getting the occasional treat. For JM - a free picture, a balloon and lots of offers of candy; for me, a bag of Kettle Corn (I'd never had it, but it was awfully good and perfect just hot out of the kettle on a cold day) and lots of coupons.

JM's favorite things were the ponies (just looking - no riding!) , the person dressed up as some sort of orange furry animal and the Fire Station Remote-controlled Dog that sits in a little fire engine. The Fire Dog is really funny - they have a guy who is slightly out of sight (to the kids anyway) and he operates the dog and talks for him. John Michael loved the flashing lights and the fact that the dog would talk (although he kept trying to put his hands in the mouth!). The orange animal (it was for Fantastic Sam's so it was fuzzy and hairy) made him laugh hysterically. He would touch the hand and then just giggle, giggle, giggle. It was pretty funny.

And finally, JM thought he had found a mini-sandbox for himself. I was looking at Halloween bows for the girls (and I found some!) and looked over to see him sitting in a hole in the pavement, playing with the loose sand/dirt/gravel. What a boy!

And wouldn't it be great if I had pictures of all these things? Yes, of course it would. But did I grab the camera? Noooo - that would be too easy. Here are a few shots after we got home.

Love the stripey hat that my friend Tracy passed on to us. It has matching mittens, gloves and a scarf - too bad we don't live further north!

"Pedaling" (he just uses his feet!) along on the red trike

JM can do so much these days - eat yogurt, applesauce, cottage cheese, etc. by himself with a spoon (and he's pretty neat ... until he decides to test it with his fingers!); he said "es" (yes) this afternoon and "ease" (please) at dinner time. He told me when he wanted his bath (did his sign and ran to the bathroom door) and asked for his milk (with a sign) when he was across the room. It's such great fun to see him communicating and he is so happy about it, too.

The only thing he really doesn't like these days are the words: nap, sleep, night-night. And oh boy, can he pitch a fit. Oh well, I'm sure it will be a passing phase, right???

And, since I'm missing my big girls (just a little!) - here's a look at them with their newborn baby brother. Clara's with him at the hospital when he's just a few hours old (and look how little Clara looks!) and Gracie's picture is at home when JM is three days old. And they just sum up their relationships with their little brother perfectly!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Idle Chatter

"Is it against the law to drive with the windows open?"

"You have to be careful when you are outside and there is lightning. It will fire you."

"Neeece" = this
"Byeee" = goodbye

What we've been doing (in 100 words or less . . . )

Birthday day for Gracie at school! She got a special blessing in chapel, a special snack (that we brought), and a birthday song from all her fellow classmates.

JM & Clara having some fun while Gracie finishes her "birthday" day at school.

Tightrope walker Gracie! Another fun kindergarten day.

First time in the trailer for the Little Man!

Even more fun, a ride with "isseee" and Piggy.

Below - The decorating madness for Gracie's 2nd Mickey Mouse cake! Gracie & Clara had independent projects (3 vanilla wafers each to ice) to keep them busy. Fortunately, this project took them tons of time and gave me time to get Mickey iced. Unfortunately, we don't have a lot of food coloring left.

And, drumroll please, the completed MM:

but oh, the mess...

And some other non-birthday related items:

A little harp time for JM. He sat at the table quite a while playing this. On a side note, Gracie announced to me on the way home from music class that she wasn't sure she wanted to learn piano. I said "Oh?" She responded, "I either want to play the harp or the piano, but I'm not sure which!"
I convinced her that she should learn the piano first and then worry about other instruments.

And the last picture - the gang hanging out together. And I do mean together - John Michael didn't like Gracie sitting in his car, so he joined her. Then Clara wanted in on the action so she headed over to be chief pusher. Poor Gracie - she had to cross those long, long legs and hold them up as Clara careened the car around the room!

p.s. I know it's a shock to you all, but I think I went over my title word limit!