Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Successful Thanksmas

The DeJong family has coordinated so that each year we spend either Thanksgiving or Christmas all together and the other holiday we all go and spend with our in-laws. On years like this one where we are scheduled for Thanksgiving together we actually do full holiday weekend that incorporates Thanksgiving and Christmas which we have named Thanksmas. This year was a great one!

Thursday:
We all gathered at Dad's house for Thanksgiving. Andy and Hillary (or I should probably say Hillary (with some help from Andy)) were in charge of the meal. No, they didn't draw the short straw, they actually claimed it last July. So we all kindly stayed out of their way, although I did end up peeling a few potatoes, and they worked for 5 hours in the kitchen.

When we all gathered to sit it was the first year we no longer all fit at one table. There were ten adults, 3 kids, and 3 babies. So the babies who were awake sat in a high chair or booster seat removed from the table, and Michael and Cody sat at a small desk in the kitchen.

The meal was delicious! I love Thanksgiving food. Perfect turkey, creamy mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole, green beans with almonds, stuffing that turned out great with apples, cranberries, and of course gravy to cover it all!

Friday:
Michele, Emily, and I fed our babies early and headed out at 6:00 for some shopping. We drove east of Lansing to an outlet mall and hit the deals. I left with clothes for every member of my family and the last Thanksmas present I was in need of for Jon. And we got to spend some great girl time without kids.

Then Grandpa and Michael went out and got a Christmas tree and we spent the afternoon decorating the house for Christmas.

Saturday (Christmas!):
Tim and I were in charge of a Christmas brunch, so I started the day with a trip to Meijer. Then we made egg scrambles, pancakes, french toast, and friut salad. This was followed by Christmas presents. Michael got a new football and video game. Jon got some Thomas trains and Buzz and Woody from toy story. Becca got a new snugglie and her first baby doll (although she slept through the whole present unwrapping session and her brothers got to open all of her gifts).

The adults then did a gift exchange. We had a white elephant style game but we bought all fun and "nice" gifts. Tim and I ended up with some poker chips, Phase 10 twist, and some great snacks. Michael of course thought we had hit the perfect jackpot! lol




Now:
It turned out to be a good thing that the kids all got some new presents because they are all sick this week so we have been shut up in the house. :(

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

We have forward motion

For Michael there was this elephant shape sorted toy that he loved, but he loved it empty. Every time we put the shapes in he would immediately bang on it's nose where the shapes came out until they were all on the floor. So we started putting it just a bit out of his reach and he learned to crawl towards it to satisfy his OCD about it.

For Jon, nothing was more enticing than a tower of blocks he could knock down. We built the tower just a bit in front of him and he instantly figured out how to crawl to get to it.

We have been working for weeks to find that special object or person that would get Becca to try crawling forward, and yesterday I finally found it - her snugglie! Let me tell you that it required a lot of enticing though. She is so good at getting where she wants through rolling. She saw me holding the snugglie. She rolled once over and back and looked up to eye the prize again. Rolled over and back again and again, each time rotating herself a bit until she was sideways. Then she rolled and rolled across the room to me and the object of her desire. So I had to get more tricky. I had to keep moving the snugglie to be right in front of her after each roll. After some fussing about it, she finally crawled forward and grabbed it from my hands. We knew she could do it!

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Together at Dad's

Here are some photos from our time together at Dad's two weeks ago.

The grandkids had tons of fun together:
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And we all pitched in a got a TON of raking down while the little ones slept.

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Michael helped out, but was way more excited about jumping in the leaves.
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Grandma Great also stopped by for a while and got to hang out some with Becca:
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Of course, we tried to get a picture of all the kids together, but it is near impossible (ok maybe entirely impossible) to get six kids under six to all look the same way and smile.
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And the weekend ended with some trick-or-treating. We had spiderman, a lion, two monkeys, pooh, and piglet. Can you guess who is who?
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Last year when we went Cody was pretty unsure about the whole thing, but this year he jumped right in at the first house and gladly accepted the candy. It was Jon that was baffled by the whole process. When people would hold out a piece to him he would take one out of his pumpkin basket to show them, as if to say, "Cool, I have one too!"
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Over a year

It has now been over a year since my mom passed away. I miss her terribly. We got together with my family two weekends ago and shared stories which was good, but would have been better if she had been with us. My dad talked about how much fun he has this past year with the new grandkids. We know how much my mom was looking forward to their arrival and that she would have had a blast with them.

Phillipians 1:21-26 says, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me."

I use to read this completely baffled. There was so much I wanted to do in life - for me and for the Lord. How could I think it would be better to die and be with Christ. I knew I would get there eventually, so why not hope to remain on earth as long as possible? I prayed many times that I would grow to understand those verses. The older I get, the more I truly relate to those passages. I know that life can be hard. I see a lot of fun and joy, but I also see the pain and troubles. Life with Jesus in heaven is going to be amazing and more and more I just can't wait to get there. Now that my mother has passed away the longing for me becomes even stronger. Yet I know that I am not done here. I have kids and a husband that need me here and the Lord has more for me to do. What a comfort though when I think about my mom. She would have been so happy spending time with family this past year, but instead she has been even happier in heaven with Jesus - "to die is gain."

I have been moving forward this year. I still daily miss her. I miss talking to her most of all about everything from kids to work to church to life. I still cry about it, but the tears are more of a weekly event not a daily event any more. A couple of months ago I was finally able to put up some pictures of her around the house. I love seeing her face, but I am reminded of the grief every time I see the pictures. She has left a hole in my life and that hole aches when I see her. But I'm also so glad I had her for as long as I did. As my sister said, I would never have wished for a different mother. She wasn't perfect but she was amazing.

Most of all when I think of her I long to be more like her. While I'm sure she lost her temper with us, I remember her being so calm and patient. I want to have that patience with my kids. She worked to support and lift up people all the time. And I remember her every morning with her Bible, praying for people in her life. I want to pray for people like she did. So family and friends who are reading this - I am praying for you all.

Let me end by showing you the picture I chose and framed to hang up in our living room. I love you mom.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

News break

Just wanted to interrupt your regularly scheduled day to let you know that Becca just learned how to pull herself back up into a sitting position after being down on her stomach. This is a skill that I'm not sure either of our boys learned until well after a year.
I've been told that girls are often much quicker at talking but in this area Becca seems to be following in her brothers' footprints. None of my kiddos were big babblers. They like to sequel, blow raspberries, and for Becca right now, make fake coughs. However, there really is almost no "babababa" or "mamamama." Instead Becca seems set on out doing her brothers in the movement area. She rolled earlier than either Michael or Jon and is 400 times more mobile than either of them were at this age. She can roll an backwards scootch all over the house. And now she can get back to sitting too! Way to go Becca.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall is Here

September seemed unbelievably warm this year, but fall has finally arrived the last few weeks. And we have done a few traditional fall activities.

1. Fall is a beautiful time to take pictures and I had a great photoshoot with the kids outside by some pumpkins. Unfortunately we never found the time to go to a local farm to pick out our own, so I had to get mine from Meijer this year (shhhh - don't tell anyone), but the kids loved playing outside with them just the same. I will show off some individual shots once I have time to play around with them more, and family will be getting some prints, but here is one of all three together.
Photo shoot

2. We raked leaves and the boys had a blast jumping in them. When I first got the pile finished I told Jon to jump in it and he looked at me completely baffled. But as soon as he saw Michael do it, he was all about it. They had so much fun.
Jumping in the leaves

Jumping in the leaves

Jumping in the leaves

3. We carved pumpkins. Ok, well I guess we actually carved A pumpkin. I bought three pumpkins this year - one for each kid, however I was not that adventuresome to carve them all. I knew that I'd end up do at least the last and probably the last two by myself, so we drew faces on Jon's and Becca's and carved Michael's.

Michael drew the face for Becca and Jon and I drew a face on his.
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Drawing the face

Then we cut open Michael's to clean it out. Jon reached right in and grabbed handfuls of goop, getting his whole arms just covered and loving every minute of it. Michael reached in and touched it (and I think he got this far only because he didn't want to be outdone by Jon) and announced that he would like to use a spoon to scoop things out. So while Jon pulled out handfuls of pumpkin innards, Michael cautiously scooped out one or two seeds at a time. Such different personalities.
Pulling out the insides

Here are the finished pumpkins:
Becca's pumpkin

Jon's pumpkin

Michael's pumpkin

Pumpkin faces

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Keeping Up with the cousins

Last weekend we went out to visit Brian, Emily, Cody, and Allie. We had a blast playing at their house and then getting all bundled up to go out to a Central Michigan football game.

The little girls were adorable together. They sat on the floor and played musical toys to the mouth, took turns sitting in the booster for some baby food, and snuggled with moms at the game.



Three days after coming home, it seems that Allie has rubbed off on Becca in one small way - Becca got her two bottom teeth!

Sunday night poor Becca was awake in the middle of the night crying and unable to go back to sleep. We had no idea what was going on and simply could not stop the fussing. Turns out it was probably those pesky teeth. Tuesday morning Becca bit down on my finger and low and behold there were two small sharp objects poking through her lower gums. Our littlest one is growing up!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Jon's newest trick

Burping! Yes you read it correctly. Jon has figured out how to bump and goes around all day burping and saying, "suse me." Where in the world did he pick this up? I work hard to teach Jon how to count, learn his animals sounds, identify colors, and none of these will he ever just do on cue. But ask for a burp and he's happy to oblige.

Friday, September 24, 2010

For the Boston Clan

I'm aware that there is not much hope for the team this year, but we thought we would teach Becca about her Boston roots today.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Despite colds...

Jon and Becca have colds (and Michael is hinting at one). :( We have had some miserable hours of the last few days because of this. Last night I was up multiple times with poor Becca who was having a hard time sleeping with her stuffed nose - wanting the paci, but then not being able to breathe. However, despite this all we had a great day. It started with Tim heading off to a gig and when Becca took her nap, I took one on the couch also (interrupted every 15 minutes or so by Jon but good nonetheless). This meant that the boys got to watch 2 hours of the Disney channel for a Saturday morning treat which suited them just fine. It included some "old" Mickey clips that I saw briefly when woken by Jon. Read old as those I remember as a kid and for those of you familiar with Mickey's Clubhouse today, what Michael refers to as Mickey before Toodles.
Just before noon we all headed up to get dressed and Becca got to experience pigtales! I'm sure this will be the first of many piggie pictures:
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The two little kids and Tim took long naps ending after the Michigan football game started, so we moved quickly into family time including dinner around the TV. Here is a cute video of Jon and Tim after Michigan won the game. (Please excuse the bouncing video - Michael was the one who took it.) :)
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Friday, August 13, 2010

Ode to Mothers of Twins

Mother of Twins Prayer
author anonymous

There’s two to wash,
There’s two to dry;
There’s two who argue,
There’s two who cry.
One’s in the mud,
Having a ball;
The other holds a crayon…
Another marked wall.
Some days seem endless,
My patience grows thin.
Why did God choose me
To be a mother of twins?
The answer comes clear-
At the end of the day,
As I tuck them in bed
And to myself I say…
There’s two to kiss,
There’s two to hug;
And best of all,
Thank You, God, for two to love.

We had my nephew Luke here today who is two days older than Becca. We've had him many of days but today both Luke and Becca decided it was a crabby day. Boy I have no idea how mothers of twins keep their sanity .... or maybe they just don't. I found myself trying to hold both of them in ways that would keep pacifiers in their mouths, feeding both of them at the same time and wondering how I was going to scratch my itchy nose, and relishing in the excuse that I had to do the dishes when they were both screaming together on the floor. And yet, throughout the day I found myself kissing them every time I picked them up, melting when they smiled, and taking pictures of the tear free moments as excellent memories of the day.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jonathan, Jonathan, Jonathan

To keep Jon from the classic middle child being ignored syndrome I thought I'd post today all about Jon.
We were up at the Lake today visiting friends and they commented on Jon, "He is just so adorable, ... although he has that look like he might be one who gets into trouble." I started immediately laughing, for that is Jon to the T! He is so sweet and cute and loves to snuggle with me and a lot of the day I just can't get enough of him, but he also gets into sooo much trouble and many times a day I just need him to stop and be still for 2 minutes.
*He adores his little sister and looks for her every morning. He loves to have her sit in the swing so he can push her HIGH! He has observed that she likes to put things in her mouth so he is always happy to pick up things and put them in her mouth for her. :)
*He loves cars and trains. Recently I picked up some new wooden train and train track pieces to add to our collection. They are currently set up on the table in the boys room and Jon is having a blast playing with them for hours each day. In fact, he loves then so much that he simply couldn't fall asleep the first few days because it was too much fun to look at them through his crib bars. So taking a trick we learned from Michael and the drum set he shared a bedroom with one week on vacation, we have started putting the trains "to bed" before night time and nap time. He says good night to them and then we cover them with a blanket. Then we can put Jon in his bed and cover him with his blanket.
*If anyone with a baby would like to know what they need to do to child proof their home we are ready to rent out Jonathan. He has an amazing knack for finding everything he is not suppose to in a room. His favorite thing to do right now is to plug and unplug things in the surge protector we use for our computers. He will also find scissors, press buttons on my phone, dump things out of boxes, empty cupboards, climb up onto tables, and the list goes on and on. The good news is he has started responding to our "go to timeout" by sauntering to a chair in the dining room and climbing up on his own, all with an expert fake cry.
*Jon is developing a great sense of humor. Like Michael he knows the way things are suppose to go, but unlike Michael he likes to do them in a completely opposite way. This leads to many funny predicaments and he is ready to laugh at them harder than anyone. Tonight he decided that stacking cups normally was getting a bit boring, so he covered himself with a blanket, fumbled his way back to the table where he had set up the cups, reached out his hand, only to grab open air. With a sheepish grin he pulled the blanket off his face and laughed along with our reactions.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jumping :)

I now have pictures of all three kiddos in the door jumper! They are all so adorable and look how much alike they look too. (Oh, and all these pictures were taken at about 5 months of age. Can you tell which one is Michael? If you guessed the complete chunk of a boy you were right!)

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Becca had a blast. She was jumping like a pro and squealing in delight. Of course, as soon as I got the video camera out she hung dramatically and whined, but I'm sure there will be more chances to come. :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

One Two Bee

In the past month, Jon has gotten into counting. Especially when we would look at a book, he would want to count anything in the pictures: the flower, the clouds, the people, the trains, you name it. Then he ventured out on his own to count things, saying, "one, two, bee, one, two, bee, ..." as he pointed to each thing. For those of you who are teachers, let me tell you that he had great one-to-one correspondence, pointing to one object for each number he counted - way beyond some of my students when I was teaching. (proud Mommy moment.)

Well that has all evolved now. For a while whenever he saw more than one of anything he would scream, "one-two-bee!" So it became a phrase that meant more than one. Too cute, I know. Well now he is back to counting but the phrase has stuck so instead of showing off his advanced counting correspondence he is now back to just cute toddler counting: for each object he points to he says, "onetwobee." So tonight when he counted four cars in the box he exclaimed: "onetwobee, onetwobee, onetwobee, onetwobee!"

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Not to be outdone by her brothers

With a birthday and losing a tooth to follow, Becca is having no trouble keeping up with her brothers. She is learning to do new things everyday it seems. This past week she has gotten tons better at sitting up. In fact she was sitting so well yesterday that I left her to run into the kitchen for something. Unfortunately she chose that moment to fall forward (the only direction where the bobby pillow wasn't there to soften her fall) and plant face first into the hard wood floor. She came up screaming but seemed no worse for the wear after some cuddle time with Mom.
Sitting Up Pretty

Next Becca chose this week to work on her razzing skills. She is quite the pro now and can spray not only herself but everyone who comes close to admire the new skill. This of course only magnifies the drooling troubles we've had so she is going through many outfits each day. Good thing her wardrobe can keep up!

And finally, we actually got her to roll over on camera this past weekend. At first, she was so good at rolling when no one was looking that I even suspected that her brothers were actually the ones rolling her. Then she let us in on the secret but failed to preform on camera - until now that it. So for all to enjoy, may I present Becca the roller:
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The tooth fairy's visit

A few mornings ago, Michael bit into a bagel and announced that his tooth hurt. Upon closer inspection, it was found to be loose - quite loose actually. I tried to talk to Michael about how all the teeth in his mouth were baby teeth and that they get loose and fall out to make room for big teeth that will grow in. He began to freak out! Poor Michael who likes to be prepared for everything was caught completely off guard. But who knew we'd have to prep him for loosing teeth while he was still 4 years old. My recollection is that a few kids loose teeth at 5, but most start at 6 or 7. However, here we found ourselves a full month before his 5th birthday. So I continued to talk calmly about the whole process and luckily when I got to the part about the tooth fairy he remembered a story he had read at Grandpa's about a bunny putting her tooth under her pillow for the tooth fairy. With that small thought to latch on to, everything started to seem ok to him. He then wanted to know all the whys, so we talked about how teeth have roots and that the roots of the baby teeth get old and and start to dissolve until the tooth falls out. So every time he would wiggle his tooth and it would move more he's announce, "Mom, it's losing more roots!"

The tooth has fallen out now - in fact it fell out at Jon's party - and Michael received a quarter from the tooth fairy. Now he can't decide whether to put it in the change jar that we are filling as "Chucky Cheese money" or to spend it on something more immediate. And to make the decision even more fun, he has a second loose tooth he plans to put under his pillow soon.

Tim and I just look at each other and think that we weren't expecting to be playing this parenting roll quite so soon!

Lost tooth

The tooth fairy came!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Jon!

Today Jon is two years old. We tried to sing "Happy Birthday" to him this morning and he just screamed "NO" and ran away. Apparently even at two getting older can be a bit scary. We actually had a party for him on Sunday with family. It was a joint birthday party for Jon and my dad and we had a blast!

Last week Michael had talked me into party blowers for the great event. I thought Jon would get a kick out of them since they had Lightning McQueen on them, but I'm not sure he even noticed that - he was having too much fun blowing them.
Party blower

We had delicious brownies and ice cream that were a big hit!
Teaching Jon to blow out candles

Brownies


And then Jon got to open his presents. He was a bit overwhelmed as we took each present away after he opened it and Michael kept bringing him more presents to open. I think he would have rather got one or two presents and been allowed to play with them right away. lol Oh well, I'm sure big brother Michael will teach Jon about the importance of having lots of presents by next year. :)
Jon's present

Here are a few of his favorite presents:
My dad made him a wooden school bus full of little people.
School bus present

And we found a toy lawn mower at a garage sale this summer. We couldn't get the bubble blower in it to work, but Jon had a blast pushing it around the yard. I think he was entertained by it for about an hour after the party.
Lawn mowing

We even got Michael a present for the day so they could have matching sun glasses.
sunglasses

Happy Birthday Jonathan!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Catch up

Well, we have been on vacation for about a month and now home again for a week of recovery. I'm finally starting to get back into the flow of normal life. So let me catch you up on our vacations:

First, we went to Boston to see family. Here are a few highlights:
We had a blast candle pin bowling. Michael loved it and stayed fairly competitive with the adults. Jon had so much fun that he never wanted to wait his turn, but then he discovered the ball return and spent the night "catching" each of the balls as it came down the track. Even Becca got some fun times!






We also visited the Boston Commons and watched the ducks.


And the trip is never complete without getting to see great-grandparents. So much fun!




Then we returned to Grand Rapids for a week which included Uncle Andy's wedding. Michael and his cousin Cody were the ring bearers and did a fabulous job.


Finally we were off again to a cottage on Lake Michigan with the DeJong side of the family. Thank goodness for a large remodeled cottage because we had 8-10 adults, 3 kids, and 3 babies there. Cody and Jon got along great as they both love cars, trains, and running around in circles. And they both loved to try and be like Michael too. The babies had a blast being pasted around and loved sharing each other's toys. The older boys absolutely loved being down at the beach and begged anyone to take them. The babies however were not so comfortable at the beach and preferred to stay inside.








While we were down there we also went house hunting. For those who haven't heard, Tim got a job teaching in Holland so we will be moving there next month. We are excited to say that we ended our vacation by making an offer on this fabulous home!


If you would like to see more vacation pictures check out our flickr site:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tchaig/