Monday, October 29, 2012

A Favorite Book, A New Word

It's hard to believe that John Michael is now old enough to listen to some of my favorite childhood stories.  Tonight he chose "Bread and Jam for Frances."  I love all of the songs she sings to her poached egg, breaded veal cutlet and when she is skipping rope. 

One of the funniest things I will always remember about this book - okay, now it's two, because I just remembered another - is that Gracie wanted a poached egg after we read it a few times.  And they are now one of her favorites!  Too funny that Gracie gets a new favorite food from a book about a picky eater!  Second funny thing I always think about when reading this book is from my childhood.  If you read the dedication, it is for "Julia, who always liked to practice with a string bean when she could" (okay, I put quotes but I'm paraphrasing.  The boy is asleep and I am not going in the room to retrieve the book for an accurate quote!).  My oldest sister is Julia, so we always got a kick out of that dedication. 

Anyhow, after giggling our way through the book, JM and I were talking about the nursery rhymes his class is going to recite on Wednesday (they have a Mother Goose program and party).  I got him to say a few, but then he was back to his perpetual favorite these days, the alphabet.  "Is the alphabet a nursery rhyme?" was his question.  Then he went back to singing it in his own special way - without all of the traditional 26 letters.  He thinks he only needs about 10 or 12 of them.  Anyhow, tonight he thought he should only have three - A, B, and Z.  So I said the only words we would have with that alphabet would be baz-zab.  To which he replied "Did I spell a word?" 

So then I suggested we try spelling C-A-T.  That one threw him for a loop since his sister walked into his room for a minute and distracted him.   So I said let's try an easy one ... D-O-G, dog.  So he repeated the letters D-O-G.  Yay!  We were making progress. 

Then JM said "Let's spell dot."  And I was just about to ask him if he knew what made the tttt sound, when he plowed ahead and said "DotCom, let's spell DotCom." 

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Yes, there have been many birthdays around these parts that I haven't posted about.  So - beginning to catch up and so ya get an April birthday post.  In fact, everyone except for Mike is due a belated birthday post. And that's especially funny since he is perpetually trying to convince the kids that it's his birthday every month, if not every week. 

So - first up, JM!

And what better way to start off your 4th birthday than with a trip to Big Daddy's Donuts!  Woo-hoo! 

And the day only got better!  Look who arrived for the celebration:
(with J and Mimi, too).  It worked out wonderfully that two of the Wrabls were in town and could come over with Mimi to the party.  We put Mimi to work right away, baking the cake with JM (who is wearing "his" apron - one of the ones Grandma passed down to the kids).  When I was growing up, it was always specifically not allowed for the birthday person to be involved in the baking/icing of the cake. In our house, we seemed to have reversed that - the birthday kiddo always wants to bake, ice and decorate his/her own cake. 

And since I did most of the icing on this cake, JM took on candle duty:

And Clara would be upset if I didn't mention that the Thomas on top of the cake is HERS.  I had much more elaborate ideas for the cake, but looking at the railroad tracks I layed down, I think it's good I took the simple approach.  But I did really love the cake that had an extra half layer that they decorated as a tunnel and had Thomas coming out of that!  Maybe when he's 14 and I have had lots more time to practice.

At present time, JM had lots of help.  Thankfully, there wasn't too much fighting with his sis!  They managed to work almost everything out.  That's one of the best things about the kids getting older, we don't have to constantly intervene.  Especially when we are in the car, I have found that if I can just stand listening to the arguing for a little bit, a resolution will usually rise up out of it all.  And it's usually nothing like what I would have suggested.  In fact, when I might have suggested that somebody share a toy or play with a sibling for a few minutes, they might promise to do something for an hour or half a day, etc.  Of course, lots of times my patience doesn't last and I step in and draw the line!  I'm waiting for the invention of the chauffeur window divider that works in a family car at the press of a button - there's a million/billion? dollar invention. 

So we had a grand day celebrating JM turning 4.  He still wasn't quite sure about counting to four (we can do that now!) and it definitely took a few weeks (months?) of practicing holding up four fingers.  We had just managed to learn three a month or so before he turned 4.  This is what happens to the 3rd child when Mommy doesn't take as much time to teach these things!  But that's okay, JM might not have had time to learn them - he is so busy with his trains, his Dogtown stories (imaginary place that all of this dog friends - Barbar, Biscuit, Brown, Pal, Ollie, Ripa, etc. live and of course, drive trains), and zooming around on his plasma car or scooter.  Happy Birthday, JM!  May you always enjoy life so much and have such passion (trains!), Little Man.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Around the House

 Updates on everyone!

In the last six weeks, Gracie has grown 1/2 an inch!  I wouldn't have believed it, but I am the one that measured her on Clara's birthday (8/19) and then on 10/2.  At least that explains the week that she just seemed to eat non-stop!  A big dinner, desert and then several snacks of nuts and craisins was her routine for a few days.  And I couldn't seem to pack enough in her lunch for school.  It's amazing that a body can actually grow that fast.
On the academic front, I am so proud of my Gracie - she is part of the Math Olympics team at school!  It is a math competition for third grade and up, and she qualified for it based on a test that everyone took.  She has never believed that she is good at math and is always saying how she doesn't like it.  Before the day of the test, she was a little worried, but I reminded her that this was just an extra activity and to just do her best on the test and not worry about the outcome. 

She was so happy the afternoon she told me that she had made the team - "I made Math Olympics!"  she said with a big smile on her face.  Then she told me that when they made the announcement in chapel, calling up the kids who had made Math Olympics, she didn't even hear them say her name (she thought they said Tracy) and her teacher had to nudge her and tell her to go up front. 

It was a great confidence booster for her.  I hope she enjoys the competition.  It's sometime in November, and I guess they usually have some practices before the actual competition.  Math was always my favorite subject, so it's nice to see her have a positive reaction to math!

 John Michael

Still as crazy about trains, he got a smile from the grownups in music class today.  The children get to choose a way to "play" their two wooden sticks.  JM demonstrated rubbing one across the other, so Miss Carol asked him what he would call that (most kids say "Rub").  But not John Michael - "Train Pistons!"  So we got to sing about "Pistons Pushing" while we rubbed our two sticks together.   

As we were heading to the car the other morning, I said to John Michael as we ran crazily across the parking lot together, hand in hand and laughing: "What am I going to do when you are in school and I am by myself?"

JM's reply: "Go shopping!"

What a great response, right?  So then I proceeded to ask him what I should shop for, "Toys!" was the answer.  (I told him I thought maybe I should go shopping for myself, but he didn't think that was a good idea.)

I laughed and didn't think much about it.  Apparently, he took it a little more seriously.  As he was climbing into the van after school, his first question was "What toys did you get me while you were shopping?"

Our resident spelling bee practice maniac!  She won her grade's spelling bee last year and is determined to do it again.  She's had the practice list of words for less than a week and I think we have practiced over 200 words.  And amazingly, she has gotten about 90% of them right on the first try.  It is also amazing to see the difference from last year.  Having never spelled words out loud before last year, it was hard just to make that transition.  We spent a lot of time last year working on being able to spell the word orally - I had kind of forgotten what a process that is, but you have to be able to think the letters, keep them all in your mind and not lose track of where you are.  And during the spelling bee, it is very strict - once you have said a letter, you can't 'take it back.'  You can ask to start over, but you have to use all of the same letters you have already said aloud.  Anyhow, we will see how she does this year - the spelling bee is on Thursday, November 1st.  (Gracie is also planning to compete in her grade's spelling bee - she's just not as fanatical about practicing.  She's reserving most of her energy for the Speech Meet which will be November 3rd.)

Helping the girls study for the spelling bee made me realize just how much older they are getting.  There were actually words on both of their spelling lists that I didn't know and had to look up.  I felt a little better after I looked them up - at least one was an arcane, spelling bee, crossword type word that is not really used day-to-day.  Abaft or elide, anyone? 

Oh - and I just finished reading one of "Gracie's" books (and enjoyed it!). 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

First First Communion

Gracie has celebrated her First Communion.  It was two Sundays ago, May 20th.  Mom and Carolyn ventured over (at a ridiculous hour in the morning!) from Dallas to be at mass at St. Ann's at 8am.  Since this is the mass we usually attend, it was nice to be able to have Gracie make her First communion at that time.  And we're so lucky that Gracie's godmother (Mom) and Aunt (Carolyn) were willing to get up so early!

Here's a picture of the young lady in all her finery just before mass:

Mom was a big help in finding the right dress for her (although we didn't know we had found it the first time she tried it on - I ordered it later, at a savings of half the price!) and bravely making her veil (per Gracie's specifications!

Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa for the money and note - Gracie was excited to buy a purse and a special prayer book (it has a space to record all of her sacrament information & has all of the traditional prayers and order of the mass, with the new wording).

At our church they celebrate First Holy Communion at all of the masses during May, and you get to pick your date.  Gracie picked well - she was the only one at this Sunday mass!  I'm sure that might have made some kids nervous, but not Gracie.  I think she actually loved having the front pew all to herself (free of pestering siblings, right?) and we were all right behind her.
The really nerve-wracking moment for me came at the beginning of the consecration.  JM leaned over and said "Potty!:"  And you know there is no time for delay, especially with a four-year old!  So out we went, and while I was worried for a few minutes that we might miss the big event, we were back in plenty of time.

Father Mel did a great job making it a special day - Gracie got to receive the Body and Blood by herself, before anyone else in the congregation came forward.  First the Body of Christ from Father Mel and then the Blood of Christ from Mr. Scot, the director of religious ed.  Mr. Scot did a great job practicing with the kids, and it was really nice that he served at all of the masses (3 every weekend) throughout May to help make the kids more comfortable. 

Now when I was a kid, pictures were a big no-no in church, but I guess times are a-changin'.  Father Mel took the time to make sure we were ready to take pictures.  I thought I was, but clearly, I'm not the best photographer!  It's really nice to have the photos though and I am glad we could take them.

At the end of mass, Father Mel called Gracie up for a certificate and then to have her help bless the items we brought to be blessed.  Oh ... ooops - we forgot about that & hadn't actually opened any of her gifts that could have been blessed.  Well, her prayer book got blessed and Father said it was a "full-service" blessing and would be good for any items that we had at home as well.  He also got her to commit to being an altar server (which she is excited about).  And then she walked out at the end of mass with Father Mel

After mass, Mom, Carolyn, Mike's Aunt Cathy and his cousin Anne were all able to come back to our house and we had a big brunch.  And then lots of nice gifts from so many people (a First Communion banner made by Aunt Carolyn, a necklace from Jerusalem from Uncle Scott, a St. Grace medal from Mike's cousin Janice, just to name a few).  It was a great celebration of such an important day for Gracie.

And it seems like it was just a short while ago that we were celebrating her baptism...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Muppet Show

So what a great show for fun family (or otherwise) entertainment.  I picked up a part of a season's discs at the library today, thinking Gracie might like it. 

Well, after a late meeting after school today (no one is in trouble, just capital campaign stuff), the kids were wiped out and I knew we need something calming before bedtime.  Mike was at his first weeknight bike ride of the summer, so I was on my own and decided to take the easy route.

We fancy it up at our house and call it "dinner theatre"  (check out that spelling - fancy, too, right?). 

So we got to eat our chicken and rice with a side of the Muppet Show.  It was the episode with Harry Belafonte (just in case any of you are a big fan or have super memories -- ahem, sisters!) and it was fun for all of us to watch.  I was worried JM might not like much of it.  But I didn't need to worry - lots of laughs, especially at the scene where Harry and Animal are having a drumming competition.  Everytime Animal gave his "Arrrrr"  JM was full of laughter. 

Gracie got more of the subtle humor, while Clara enjoyed the jazz scene where the saxophonist had a bee buzzing around that kept getting stuck in the saxophone. 

Anyhow, there were only sad faces when I told them only one episode a night.  They are looking forward to another "dinner theatre" tomorrow night.  (Friday night is when we usually allow these treats.)

And just because I love my family so much, here's a picture after the girls' school musical (which was excellent - a musical tribute to the Armed Forces at the beginning and then American history).   

Friday, January 20, 2012

A little bit of everything...

It's been so long since I've written that this will just be whatever I happen to think of, what pictures I stumble upon, etc.

Gracie's funnies from the last week. 
"I don't want Clara reading my journal.  I was examining my conscious."
"Here's the car we should get Mommy, the 'posh'" (can you guess which car she really meant?  Here's a hint: she has good, but expensive taste.  Hmmmm, wonder who she gets the expensive part from???)
And yes, we are looking for a new car.  Mike is fine, but our Camry is not.  A few weeks ago someone side-swiped him (and pushed him off the road) as he was on his way home.  So we are car shopping a few years earlier than we had planned.  But we are lucky enough to have the luxurious Lexus from Mom while we are looking.  Thank you, Mom!!! Otherwise we would all be getting up very early to take Mikey to the bus stop - I can't imagine that would be a lot of fun. 
Train-mania continues from JM.  He loves his new Polar Express (a real electric Lionel train) that Santa brought him, but he still wishes for a "real" train to drive.  He's going to have to keep on wishing that wish!  He did get to ride on a train last week, though. The 'PBS' train according to him.  It was actually the TRE train from Fort Worth to Dallas.  And he got to ride on DART (the Dallas Light Rail).  Gracie and I had taken the train over to Dallas on a Saturday and drove Mom's extra car home. That was the last train riding I had planned to do for awhile, but when you leave your iPhone on the seat of DART, you ended up traveling back to Dallas and over to the DART Lost and Found.  So lucky that someone turned it in, and JM got to reap the benefit of several extra rides on DART as we went to the station where the phone was and then back out to the station by Mimi's.  Here's a shot of him on the light rail:

Does that boy look happy or what?

And this is on the "nightime diesel train" because we stayed and played with Mimi all day.  The poor guy was really wanting to sleep, but of course it is nice and bright on the light rail and train for safety.  As soon as we got in the car to drive home, he was out like a light.  And this day of train riding just fueled his love of trains and his stories about trains!  

 And here is what he is looking like today. 

He gets big points for getting dressed himself because we were in such a hurry to get to school this morning (what morning are we not in a hurry???), but do you notice anything strange about his outfit???

JM's funny - and he's been saying this for a few months now... "giamantous"  - I love this word!  The girls keep trying to correct him, but I keep telling them not to.  That's not bad, right?  I also keep asking him about his "wittel wegs."  When we were walking a lot a few weeks ago, he told me I needed to carry him because his "wittel wegs were ty-ud."

And last but not least, Clara-bear.  She's had the run of bad luck with sickness - first a horrible stretch of MRSA in her "girl parts" that had her missing two weeks of school and now she's struggling to get rid of an ear infection.  As much as she loves her teacher this year, missing all of this school just made her want to stay home more.  Unlike Gracie, she has really struggled with being at school all day - she says she misses me and that "school takes up all of my time."  Not much I can say to contradict that, but I hope next year will be easier for her since she will be older.

Here she is on her new bike at her birthday in August- all the fancy touches on it are from Aunt Sue and Uncle Todd.  Who I don't ever got a proper thank you, so here it is. She just loves the basket, the streamers and the spoke beads! 
And looking at this picture reminds me that it was an extra special birthday celebration because Mimi, Aunt J and most especially, Alex! were able to be at her party.

Lately, Clara's passion has been Super Mario Brothers.  Santa brought a Wii for Gracie and Clara and Clara just loves this game!!  Unfortunately, there is not a lot of time in the day to play it (on school days), so we have had a few teary nights when she is denied Mario. But, when Mimi was over this weekend and Mike and I went car hunting, we came back home to discover them both playing!!

Okay - lots more to say, but it's time to take Gracie to her Dentist appt. (just a checkup). Hopefully, I'll get back to blogging more regularly! I know there are more photos I want to share and always funny stories.  Like about the "circus" show Mike & I got to watch before dinner last night ....