Saturday, December 18, 2010


All from the last few weeks in the life of John Michael:

"I turn on Christmas!  More Christmas, I turn on Christmas!"Yes, that's what he announces when he plugs in the lights for the tree and around the house (no lectures on a 2 and a half year old plugging things in, please!)
And also, we've discovered whenever he spies a Christmas tree somewhere: "They have Christmas!!"

Last Saturday, after spending a few hours at urgent care and JM receiving two breathing treatments and oral steroids (picture him on high speed, non-stop, full throttle!):
"I ready to check out!" and as we are finally walking out the door, I ask him if he wants me to carry him or if he wants to keep walking and "stretch his legs."  To which he responds by taking long, straight strides and announcing "I stretch my legs!" 

And from the back seat of the car on the way home ... (it was just the two of us in the car), a deep voice exclaiming: "Ho, ho, ho, Merrrry Christmas!"

John Michael went to mass with us this morning (Christmas), but he didn't manage to be quiet enough to stay in the church the whole time. So while we were in the back of the church "stretching our legs," we stopped by the cry room (which always has the door open) and he spied the font with the holy water.  He wanted to bless himself, so I thought no problem.  He dipped his fingers (he doesn't have the one finger thing down!) and then proceeded to cross himself (with my help).  And then ... those fingers went right to his mouth!  So he's good, inside and out. 

And later today as we were sitting on the porch swing watching for Aunt C and Mimi, JM called out "I see them, they're coming!"  So I look down the block, don't see anything, look again and then ask him, "Did you really see them?  Are you pretending? Are you teasing??"  Lots of giggles and that cute little grin "I teasing!"  He is quite the joker these days & is always happy if he can make you laugh with his silliness. 

I know I am leaving out many, many funny moments, but these are all my Mommy-memory brain can recall right now. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Clara Production - and oldie but goodie

From Summer 2009:
 And here's how the girls looked back then!   Hard to believe they are growing up so fast.  Another post on that tomorrow. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Makes me laugh!

So today we all decided (at John Michael's suggestion) to have a popsicle on our way to take Clara to school.  As I was buckling JM into his car seat, I could see him eyeing my popsicle. In the past, he has rushed to finish his popsicle so he can then ask for mine (and I usually give it up).  But he must have assessed that he had too much of his pop left for that to work this time, so instead he went with: "I need test yours!"

Gee, I wonder where he learned that phrase? 

Needless to say, he got a lick of my popsicle! 

Thursday, December 9, 2010


There was a dead tree (dead since last year) on the school lawn, so I did the logical thing and volunteered my husband to cut it down.  Thoughtful, eh?  Well, I know he is a man of many talents, so I thought we should put them to use.  Plus, we'll have enough firewood for several years now!! And, they were worried about it falling down and hadn't had any luck roping anyone else into cutting it down. 

And if you are a patient child while your parents work on a crazy project, this is what your reward is (but only since they didn't yet know that JM had an allergy to milk!):

Mother Goose was on the loose ...

at Clara's school about a month and a half ago.  This is their fall program that they do and it's filled with all sorts of Mother Goose nursery rhymes. 

Clara decided she wanted to be a sheep (as in Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep), and one of her good friends, Avery, was Little Bo Peep.  For her sheep costume, we started off by finding an old white t-shirt in Mike's drawer and then we started gluing on cotton balls with the glue gun.  Well, by the time we had used one package of cotton balls and covered only about one third of the t-shirt, I decided maybe this wasn't the way to go.  So we looked in the costume closet at the school (which I had somehow not managed to find out about even though Gracie has spent the last two years doing lots of performances that require costumes!).  And we found a great looking sheep outfit - it was white, fluffy and just the right size.  We popped it on quickly, found a headband to match and I figured we were good to go. 

On the day of the performance, about a half hour before we needed to go, I told Clara we needed to get her into her costume. We got it on and about five minutes later, she was miserable.  The costume was hot and itchy and the headband wouldn't stay on.  Oh, dear - I'm not the world's most creative person, and that was one reason I had been so thrilled to find a costume already made.  But I guess necessity is really the mother of invention, because we whipped together something in about 10 minutes: Clara's own white t-shirt, black leggings, a skirt fashioned out of  the t-shirt that I had ripped the cottonballs off of (it was semi-fuzzy looking), cut the feet off of black socks to use for "legs" (slip onto the arms) and then use the bottom of the socks for ears pinned to a black headband.  Pssshewww .. we made it.  And she looked pretty cute!
Here's her whole class. They had a bunch of spiders, Little Miss Muffet, Little Bo Peep, a couple of sheep and the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker.

Clara did great during the program.  I didn't take any video this time - I tried to snap a few photos, but I decided just to sit back and enjoy the show this time.  I think the whole last minute costume redo had worn me out!  So here's a happy Clara in the middle of one of their songs:
And I couldn't get any pictures of this, but they always do a version of the Itsy, Bitsy Spider at the beginning of the program.  The kids slip on all black shirts and have on white gloves.  Then they use a glow light and it's great fun to watch their fingers as they make the spider crawl up and down and all around!

After the program, the kids have a "carnival" of Mother Goose based games.  Clara had been before with Gracie, but it was still lots of fun.  Here she is doing "Jack & Jill."

John Michael got in on the "action," too.  Well, he's supposed to be doing the cake walk, but once he had that ring pop, he just sat in the chair! Who cares about cake when you've got a ring pop!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Just a few of the things I've missed (blogging about) in the last few months ...

In October, we all got a chance to go down to San Antonio and visit Uncle Scott.  Mike and the girls had been down before, but this was the first chance JM & I had to visit him at the seminary. 

We left on Friday night and broke the trip up by stopping about an hour short of San Antonio.  The kids loved the hotel, especially the pool.  I was a wimp, so Mike was the one that had to endure the chilly water!  And he definitely does not like cold water.  But the real challenge was actually holding on to John Michael.  Two months before he was fussing about getting in a swimming pool, but then at the hotel, he suddenly became convinced that he could swim!  He spent a good portion of the time screaming "let me go!"  But he (Mike, John Michael?) survived.  But it wasn't an easy night - JM didn't all asleep until around 10pm and then woke up at 6am.  I snuck out of the room with him in the morning, hoping the girls and Mike could get a little more sleep (which they did). 

Then we headed down to San Antonio, to meet Uncle Scott and go to the mass for him for the conferral of the ministry of acolyte (one of the steps along the way to becoming a priest). 

 It seemed like it was going to be a really nice mass, but unfortunately, John Michael and I didn't get to find out.  He didn't even make it through the opening hymn before he was fussing and being way too loud.  Once I got him outside, I realized the lack of sleep was doing him in.  So instead of church, he got a nice nap on my lap while I sat on a bench in the sun.  It was a beautiful day, so even though I didn't get to be inside, I was glad Mike and girls were and that we had been able to come down. 

After church we headed to the Riverwalk for a yummy Mexican lunch.  Can you tell Gracie is trying to convince Uncle Scott not to jump in?   I know that's what Mike was telling JM! 
After lunch we scouted around for a pumpkin patch.  The one that had been at the Catholic church the previous year wasn't around this year, so we ended up supporting the Methodists that afternoon at a nice little pumpkin patch. 
Apparently, Clara thought it was important to test the toughness of the pumpkins! 
It was a nice little pumpkin patch until we got the little wagon to pull the pumpkins to the front.  Check out that expression on JM's face.  Clara was sure he needed help pulling/directing the wagon and John Michael was sure he didn't!  And Gracie and I are just standing by watching ... 

Fast forward a few days - pumpkin carving time.  I can only comment on the pictures here.  I definitely don't have the patience or ability for this activity!!!  I love the difference in the expressions on their pumpkins - kind of sums up their personality differences, right?
Fast forward another day or two and it's .... Halloween!
Here's the costume lineup for the year:

Indian Princess

And my favorite (costume, that is) - the "man" in brown! 
My favorite grown-up man was also dressed in brown, but I didn't happen to get a decent picture. 
Any guesses what I was?  I think it fit my personality that week - here's a hint:

Finally, I had to post this picture just because the kids look so cute going up to the house.  And also, to point out that this is what happens when you go too Texas crazy.  Yikes!  Look at all of those stars, longhorns and who knows what else...

So that's how it was most of the night - JM running to catch up.  But let me tell you, once he discovered there was candy involved, he wasn't going to be left behind.  Ironically, all he wanted to eat from the loot over the next few days were the "gummies" (the fruit snacks).

I didn't get any pictures of the girls unloading/sorting/trading the loot, but let me tell you there was a lot!  I think we sent at least 5 pounds with Mike to work and the kids still had more than they could ever eat by Christmas.  I think next year that we really just need to go halfway around the block! (of course, there would be some logistical problems with that plan ...)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Some of my favorites

Here are a few of the phrases the kids have been using lately that always make me laugh:

From John Michael: "I'll be riiiiiiiight back ... (picture the backside of him running away, toddle, toddle, from side to side)." And in the we're still learning our consonant sounds category: pire engine, water pountain, pire man, ...
Finally, the funny story from last night - Mike was telling me that they just announced no raises for government employees for the next two years.  Not good news for us, but not much we can do about it.  We know there are plenty of people that work for the government that don't really do much work, but my husband doesn't happen to be one of them, so it's a shame they can't figure out how to reward those that actually do work.  Anyhow, Mike was saying that he heard the commentators on the radio talking about the no raise issue and the "lazy bums" that work for the government.  Well, JM picked up on that phrase and just ran with it.  We couldn't understand the first few sentences he said, but they definitely had "lazy bums" in them.  Then he went on to say "I put the lazy bums in a cage... so they won't scare you Daddy."  Watch out you lazy bums! JM will get you!

Clara gave us a good laugh on our drive home from Amarillo.  We were trying to find a place to eat dinner when she moaned from the back seat, "when are we going to eat?  I'm about to starve to death!"  Needless to say, she made it to dinner, although it barely resuscitated her.  She was almost asleep by the time she polished off her rice and bean burrito. 

Sadly, as Gracie gets older, there are fewer funnies from her.  Plus, as I get older, the chances of me remembering them gets worse.  What a bad combination!  But she did write a neat acrostic poem (they learned about them before Thanksgiving) the other day:

When I asked her when she had done that, she just said "in my spare time."   I was impressed! 

Here's another project that the younger sister did in her spare time.  It's a school and school bus.  Cool, huh?  Those blocks have been really fun and have been transformed into many, many different things.  The school and the school bus are new, though!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Over the river and through the woods ...

To Grandmother's house we go! We headed up to Amarillo to have a pre-Thanksgiving visit.

John Michael was very excited about going to Grandma's house.  When I woke him up this morning, he was sneezing.  I asked, "do you want a Kleenex?" "No...there's a Kleenex box at Granma's house."  Then he went on to talk about playing with the tea set in the bathtub.  It's been awhile since he's been over to Grandma's and Grandpa's, but he remembered a lot about it.

Once we were here and unpacking, he claimed the back bedroom as "his."  Never mind that Gracie and I would be sleeping in there as well.  His light, his clock, his big table (the nightstand), and his Kleenex box (!) all made him very happy!

JM started out sleeping in his pack and play the first night, but after a night of listening to random cries of "let me out" throughout the night, I decided to rethink the sleeping situation.  For the second night he ended up on a cot between the bed and the wall.  It was much more restful, and except for the fact that he woke up at 5am and decided that I had his pillow? and that he had to get it back, I got a much better night's sleep.  So, as Virginia put it, we'll have one less thing to pack for the next trip. 
One of the things we did on this trip was take the kids to the Alibates Flint Quarry.  It's actually a National Monument that's a little bit northeast of Amarillo (about a 45 minute drive from Mike's parent's house).  It's a guided tour, so we hiked about a mile to the top of a mesa (and almost got blown away in the process) and got to see the Alibates flint that the Plains Indians used for arrowheads, knives, etc.  It was really pretty amazing.  I guess this type of flint isn't found anywhere else in the U.S.
 Listening?? at one of the shelters to the guide talking about ... something ... (I was concentrating on the kids not blowing away and not confiscating/rearranging all the rocks on the mesa)

 Sitting at the first shelter, on a rock that had some Alibates flint in it. 
 Daddy carried him down, I carried him up.
 The girls were troopers.  Clara was about to give out when we were on the top, but she went lickety split down the hill!
The goal!  Looking at one of the flint quarries at  the top of the mesa.
I don't know how much the kids took in, but I think it would be neat to go back in five or so years and see what they remember.  Since it is a national monument, any rocks or anything (the flint type rock was all over as we got close to the top of the mesa) you see can't be taken with you and is supposed to be left where it is.  If you pick something up to get a closer look, it's supposed to go back to approximately the same place.  So, with a 2 year old boy, I'm sure you can imagine that we had a few challenges with that rule!  Mainly he wanted to stack lots of the rocks together, especially on the benches at the little shelters we stopped at on the way up.  But surprisingly, it was Clara that had the hardest time about the rules.  She had found a pretty sizable piece of the flint that she really loved.  I think she found it at the last shelter we stopped at.  I thought she knew she had to leave it there.  But about ten minutes later when we were at the top of the mesa looking at the quarries, I saw Mike carrying her and that piece of flint was snuggled up between her and Daddy (I'm sure he appreciated the extra weight! plus, it's a very sharp type of rock).  Mike finally convinced her to leave it, and when we got back to Amarillo, Grandpa saved the day by letting Clara have his flint rock to take home.  And I think it was even bigger than the one she found at Alibates.

And to make sure that no one got cheated on the rock front, we went to McBride Canyon before we headed home.  It's just a few minutes from Alibates, and Mike remembers picnicing there and picking up rocks from the creek bed when he was growing up.  Of course, it's deer season, so there were lots of campers aruond in there day-glo orange hats.  That made me a little nervous, but once we got to the creek bed (which was lots smaller, according to Mike), I forgot all about it.  Apparently, we were all a little rock crazy that day.  I filled my hands full, Clara had a Subway lunch bag that was fulllll, Gracie had her hands full, and JM was thrilled that I had dressed him in cargo pants that morning.  I'm surprised his pants didn't fall off on the way back to the car!

 The kids had fun (as always) hanging out with Grandma, Grandpa, Daisy and kitten.  Many trips were made to the basement to retrieve and exchange toys, and I have to say, Joe & Virginia have a lot of tolerance for noise and mess.  Because there was a lot of both for a few days!

Clara proudly showing off her almost perfect report card to Grandpa (she only missed counting to 100 correctly).   Gracie's had several almost perfect report cards as well (all A's in conduct and 98,99 and 100s for grades!!).  She didn't have hers on this trip though because the "graders" (as Gracie always called them last year) get their report cards every 6 weeks, and Clara will only get 3 report cards for the whole year. 

Riding scooters was a big hit this trip.  I didn't get any pictures of it, but they all rode their scooters (JM included) out on the driveway and of course, Clara had to ride downhill through the grass and then JM did that too.  I went back into the house at that point.  Mike told me later that Grampa got JM to give hi
m some scooter lessons!  The kids also wanted to scooter (and play) at the park, so we did that on Monday morning.

And of course we got to see Aunt Susie, Uncle Dave, Sarah & Katie.  But JM and the girls didn't get nearly enough time to play with their cousins.  And even though I tried to convince Aunt Susie that the girls should stay home from school, they did have to go to school on Monday (our kids had the whole Thanksgiving week off).  So they didn't get to be in our good-bye picture!

Then it was time to leave.  Poor JM had a little too much excitement over the weekend and could barely keep his eyes open.  If we hadn't needed to get on the road, I'm sure he would have fallen asleep in Grandma's lap:

And I thought this picture summed up the whole weekend for the kids - big smiles and happiness (and a little tired)!

Can you keep a secret?

So I found out last Thursday that John Michael can keep a secret, especially when it is in his best interest. 

It was almost noon and time to make our second trip up to the school, to drop Clara off for kindergarten.  JM really didn't want to go (I can't blame him, we spend lots of time in the car going back and forth to school!), so I told him I had a secret to tell him but that he couldn't tell Clara.  I told him the secret and he was ready to run to the car and get Clara to school.

We got Clara to school, walked her in, took a quick peek at the giant paper maiche cornucopia that the kindergarten class had made for the food from the canned food drive, and then headed back to the car.  As soon as I had loaded JM in his car seat, he was done keeping that secret...

"We go Mimi-Pap's!!!!"

And yes, I didn't tell my oldest two, but John Michael and I snuck away to Dallas to visit with my parents for the afternoon and evening.  I heard from Mike that those girls were mad when they found out where I had gone and that their little brother had gotten to go without them!! It's not fair, they said. 

Thursday is the day that the girls go to the afterschool program, so Mike always picks them up on his way home.  So that left JM & me free to go to Dallas for a reasonably long visit.  I didn't feel too guilty about not taking the girls because they always tell me that Thursday is their favorite school day because they love going to afterschool.  They have a Craft club and a Sports club on Thursday that the kids participate in and Clara's done both, but Gracie is sticking with (and loving) Craft Club. 

But back to our Dallas visit, John Michael really was happy about going and eager (apparently) to do anything I told him.  Once we were on our way and on the highway, I told him he should shut his eyes and try to take a nap so he would have more energy to play with Mimi .... so he did!! As soon as I asked him.  Amazing.

And yes, he had lots of energy to play with his beloved Mimi:

Pap wasn't feeling the best when we were there, but JM did get to play with him later in the visit.  We visited Pap in the bedroom, so JM tried out the bed for jumping, explored the bathroom (he liked the biiiig sink (=jacuzzi tub)), and played with the end table drawers and the little extensions that slide out to put drinks on (J, S and C, you will know what I mean!!).  He and Pap had a bit of a tickling match and then it was time for dinner.

The afternoon/evening seemed to fly by, and it was soon time for Mimi & Pap to head out for Pap's choir rehearsal.  But I got in a last picture.  JM doesn't look too happy, but he knew his fun time was about to end!

And don't tell his sisters, but JM & Mimi invented a fun new game.  Here they are in action, I think on round four or five:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Clara's Birthday (as told by Clara)

"This is my first party at the beach. It was really fun.  And I played in the sand.  I saw Aunt Sue go outside while I was blowing out the candles, I thought she was setting off the smoke alarm!"  (Note: Mommy accidentally bought the relighting candles, which turned out to be quite funny, but a little frustrating).

"When I opened my sister's present, I was sooooo happy, happy, happy!  She gave me a Webkinz and I named it Snow Bear.  And the other presents were fun, too." 

 "I was really lucky on my birthday because I got lots of presents and I whacked the pinata down (Note: the pinata was a last-minute homemade by Gracie deal.  Clara reallly, really wanted one, so Gracie fashioned one out of 3 old party hats & we filled it from the candy bowl and hung it from the basketball goal.)
 "I was so happy when I opened Gracie's present.  And it was an Amazing Hamster."
" When I was icing my cake, I thought it was going to be really yummy.  I made Curious George's striped ball.  And it was a good birthday after all."

 "When I opened Sorry I was really amazed that I got a Sorry.  And it was brand-new.  Nobody touched it.  I was sooo, sooo, happy. " (Note: I think the brand-new might be a comment on so many things coming from JBF!)

 "Daddy put together my Hot Wheels and the Hot Wheels really did work, but not when I had it by myself.  But then Mommy found a better Hot Wheels." (Note: She really wanted to include this picture because "I love my Daddy!")

"John Michael is really silly.  He took black pictures when he was using the camera and when he was one year old."  
"Gracie was really silly.  She ate with her hands and she made that face.  She's a really good sister!"