Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Accomplishments - Boys first

Yes - sleeping!  No, actually this is a quick time out when he was finally able to run free at Clara's final class (performance!) at The Little Gym. 
His big accomplishment is all the talking he has been doing lately.  He's really trying for sentences, and is happy to repeat, repeat, and repeat a word if you don't get it.  And then repeat it and repeat it again if you still don't get it. 

Some example "sentences" from the past few days:
1) Ready to leave the house and knowing he has to put on his new shoes first.  (We had a big struggle getting him to wear a new pair of shoes, so Daddy volunteered and took him shopping to get these new ones.)  "NUU, Nuu, Nuu...Dada, Dada, Dada . . . GO!GO!GO!"
2) Waving  goodbye to me in anticipation of the babysitter coming and me leaving (a first! usually he's not so happy)  "Jess . . . . playplay . . . go . . . BYE!"

He has been trying to put two words together without all the repeats.  We've heard "Dump . . . truck" a few times this week. There are still long pauses in the middle, but he's definitely getting there. 

Of course, with all of these words, it's definitely a big help if you know what he is talking about.  And of course, lots of times we really don't!  I'll be thrilled when I finally figure out some of his words.  There is something he is always talking about "bin" or "ben" and I have no idea what it is! 

And while it's not too relevant to the post, I thought this was a cute picture of "the boys."  I guess they are reading "The Prince and the Potty" and Mike has been trying to work on that with JM (he seems to be in charge of the potty training with the kiddos - he had good luck with the girls, so I'm happy to let him forge ahead with John Michael). 

But Mike's real accomplishments have been all his workouts and cycling.  He's lean and mean (okay, you have to know that's sarcasm if you know my husband at all) these days, down to his college weight.  He did a 60 mile ride about a month ago in Burleson and averaged 21mph.   This past Saturday he cycled 78 miles at a ride in Waxahachie and completed that in 4 hours 15 minutes.  He was aiming to do the 100 mile ride, but missed one turn so ended up with a shorter loop.  He'll be riding the Hotter than Hell Hundred come August, and there's no doubt he'll be ready this year.  I bet he's aiming to make it in under 5 hours . . . again.  Go Mikey!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Just finished listening to both of my girls reading!  Amazing!

Clara needed help (of course), but she got a lot of the words on her own.  She was reading a Level 1 Barbie book (yes, I Know - I'm not a big fan, but I let Gracie buy it at the book fair with her money since she really wanted it and we were trying to encourage the reading). 

Then I got to listen to Gracie reading.  She amazes me with her fluency/inflection in her reading.  And some of the words she knows (creatures!).  And just to be completely different than her sister, she was reading The Rhyme Bible. 

And JM came in at the end and cuddled up to listen a little bit to each sister reading.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Bread and Jam(Plum) for Mike

So it's been a great year for our plum tree.  Last year we had a late freeze and some storms that took the fruit off the trees.  But not this year.  Clara had been asking about "her" plum tree, since she loved the plums when we had them several years ago.  She didn't end up actually eating many this year, but she was really excited about picking and helping to make jam.
Clara started off picking from Daddy's arms . . .

But then it was necessary to switch to the ladder.  She went all the way to the last step.  She was determined to get every plum she could!

Here she is with about 2/3 of the crop.  Mike had to pick the rest from the top step of the ladder - it's a tall plum tree!  And yes, we picked lots of them green this year.  We've learned from experience to pick when we get the chance instead of waiting.  We found that waiting leads to too much waiting when other things in life seem more pressing and before you know it most of the fruit is rotting on the ground.  But they actually ripened very nicely in the house where we spread them out on the rock area surrounding our wood stove. 

Back to the picking . . . it took long enough that we all managed to wander outside before it was all said and done.  Everyone managed to find a job for him/herself.  Gracie and I sorted the plums in the wagon (green and ripe) and John Michael had some complicated, and understandable only to him, job of putting the leaves and greenery that accidentally got picked into his wheelbarrow.  

Then it was time to bring the harvest in:

The girls and I took off to Houston a few days later (more on that in an upcoming post!), but Mike persevered and ate lots of plums, got lots of jam made and ate lots of plum jam.  I've been joking with the kids that he might have a plum tree growing in him! 

Luckily for Clara, there were still some plums that needed to be turned into jam.  She was really excited to help and there were enough for two nights of plum jam-making.
She even got to stay up late the second night to help since she took a 2 hour nap that day and Gracie was off at VBS with a friend so it was a fun time for her and Daddy (JM was in bed). 
And that's it for the plums this year.  Now we just get to enjoy about 8 quarts of yummy plum jam (okay, I think we're down to 6 - Mike really has been eating a lot!).  We'll give you a taste if you drop by, but you better hurry, it's going fast.

Friday, June 18, 2010

And the pool is . . .

Open! At least at Mimi & Pap's.   We got to spend a nice relaxing Sunday (on Memorial Day weekend) in the pool.

Gracie & Clara managed to get in a couple of swim sessions.  This is the first session, when the sun was going strong.

Mike eventually got in (and got comfortable as this picture shows!), but of course he is one that has to inch his way into the pool, agonizing at every drop of water is splashed his way (and believe me, there were some!).

Pap even got in the water for the second round of swimming.  And I think he turned into a shark - Gracie & Clara were having a blast "swimming" from him!

And you might notice the absence of JM in these shots.  He came with us, he just wasn't in a "pool" mood.  I'm afraid that watching too many swim lessons and not participating may have made him think that he shouldn't get in the pool.  But I'm hoping to remedy that this week by having him have a mini-lesson after the girls' lessons.

After the pool, everyone was ready for a snack. Mimi made some popcorn - which was fascinating for the girls since it wasn't popped in the microwave.
I know we did more throughout the day, but I only captured pictures of the pool and popcorn making.  That's what happens when you're having fun.  Thanks for having us over Mimi & Pap.  It started the summer off right!


Yes, I'm finally catching up on all the events of May and the beginning of June.  So just pretend it's not as hot as it really is yet (especially if you're here in N Texas) and sit back and enjoy!

Gracie had a great kindergarten year.  The graduation celebration was an hour long program featuring songs, slides from the year, recognition for different reading accomplishments, attendance awards, and then the most important part, the awarding of the diploma!  Gracie was super excited about switching over her tassel - she knew that once she did that she would officially "graduate" from kindergarten.

It was a lovely program (like all of the other one's they have done this year) and the kids performed an amazing amount of songs with movements accompanying the words.  And after the program, there was an amazing reception out on the lawn, under a huge oak tree decorated with lights.  As part of the school's tradition, the first grade parents put together this reception for the kindergarten.  I really like this tradition and am looking forward to being part of it next year! 

   Do you see that excited smile on her face?  I thought she (and all the other kindergartners) might just explode with happiness and excitement!

Gracie was full of silliness that night as well!

And finally, check out the tassel in the picture below. 

Receiving her diploma from Mrs. Werner and Mrs. Matejka.  Thank you ladies, for a wonderful year!

First and Last

Saturday, June 12, 2010

How to get things done around the house ( or yard)

And don't forget to think outside the box.  You can invite school friends over for a "play" date.

Our Garden

This year, everything started a little later than usual.  We had a very, very muddy yard.  When Mike was finally able to till the garden area, he looked like he might even go under with the tiller.  He didn't, and now we have a nice lovely garden patch. 

It's not the 1 acre garden we had growing up, but we've got lots of stuff in our little area - tomatoes, beans (a whole row of those, the girls insisted!), eggplant (no luck last year, but I wanted to try again this year), cucumbers, zuchini, basil, marigolds, sunflowers, a vinca (which Clara saw at Home Depot and had to have!).  I think that's all, but in reality, Mike is the master gardener.  I just like to admire and eat the "fruits" of his and the kids' labor.  I did think about doing some weeding the other day, but it was awfully hot and I'm sure one of the kids wanted me to play with them (always a handy excuse, right?).
 Gracie, working hard, as always.  Digging like her Daddy does, foot on the shovel.  
Clara was busy planting, too.  She was on bean detail and also helped with cucumbers (her favorite!) and squash. 
Daddy distributing seeds to plant.  He got smart this year and put popsicle sticks to mark where the plants were.  Well, it seemed smart until I looked up and saw John Michael pulling up all the popsicle sticks and then digging around for seeds!  I guess JM doesn't quite have the whole garden thing down yet.

So that's our little garden.  We haven't harvested anything yet, but the bean plants are big, I've seen flowers on the cucumbers and there are at least 4 green tomatoes on one plant.  Yipee!  
And I'm just realizing that we have harvested something - one of my favorite things - basil!  I love to add it to our tomato sauce, on top of pizza, or in salads.  It's so yummy.   I really missed it over the winter when we didn't get our plant inside before the first freeze.  
I'll post soon about our harvest from our "orchard!"

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Clara, Clara, Clara

I don't know if it was the slight fever she had today or the cold she has inherited from Gracie (who is almost recovered now), but Clara was non-stop entertainment in the car today.  Our journey consisted of driving to Gracie's piano camp and then to various stores and then back to pick Gracie up.

On the way to the piano camp, Clara was sure we had gone too far and missed our turn (she really likes to help you out with your driving - I can't wait until she's working on that learner's permit).  "Mommy, we missed the H-turn - where's the H-turn???" 

Let me preface this next part by saying that last night, Clara wanted Gracie "OUT" of "her" room (they share a room) during her storytime.  So today about 5 minutes after dropping off Gracie, Clara started talking about what would happen after she and Gracie were grown-ups. 
Clara: I won't see her anymore.
Me: Yes, you will. Remember how I get to visit my sisters?
Clara: But it won't be everyday...It will be different.  It will never be the same again!  And I won't get to see you ... and you will be really old.
Me: (I had to pause and think about the really old part!) . . . Well, you can always come visit us and you can call us.  Everyday, if you want.  We can talk everyday.
Clara: No ... that would be too much.  Not everyday!!!

Then, in the parking lot where it was raining: "Look at all the windwipers - they're wiping off the wind....Is that right, Mommy?  Do they wipe off the wind?"
So I didn't give her a straight answer - I just couldn't inform her that they weren't windwipers.  It's much more interesting sounding.  So I told her I supposed they might.   I guess eventually I should tell her what they are really called.  But I'm sure Gracie will set her straight (one of her most recent favorite activities) if I don't.

I know she had a few other funnies, but it's late and I'm definitely having Mommy memory (=no memory). 

But here's my all time favorite so far & I still don't correct her because it always makes me laugh!
Clara's a big fan of a show called Zoboomafoo (which is all about wild animals).  So here's one of the things she's learned on the show:  "Animals have to protect themselves from their creditors."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Just in time, as the humidity has risen and so has the temperature, a package arrived from Aunt Sue. Can you sense the excitement?

Not only did the girls get a beautiful sundress each to wear, but I got the pattern complete with additional instructions and examples (which you know I need - sewing a circular poodle skirt for the girls is about the extent of my skills!).

The girls love their dresses and Clara packed hers to wear in Amarillo that weekend!

Look at those smiles!  Thank you, Aunt Sue!

Round #3 - JM's Birthday

So after watching Gracie's encore performance of Hallelujah Hop, Mimi & Pap came over to celebrate JM's birthday.  He was thrilled & had definitely gotten the hang of opening the presents.  Clara was sure he still needed some help, but I'm sure he would have done fine on his own.  Then after presents, he got to have a birthday treat - a cupcake.  And boy, did he love those! 
As soon as he woke up from his nap that afternoon he started talking about "cake, cake."  I think that look on his face must be wariness, just in case anyone is trying to steal that delicious cupcake!

And of course, no visit would be complete without another matchup between the checker champ and Pap:

The next day, the girls were playing with the toys JM got (yes, that's how it goes when you have older siblings and you are not that old, yet!) and JM was playing with his gift from Aunt Mary Jo and Uncle Dick (which he loves!)  And just so you younger siblings don't worry too much, JM did get a chance with his new bubble blower . . . eventually!