Saturday, January 29, 2011

Coloring, Word Searches, and Mazes

Yesterday morning I had the brilliant idea to get all the kids busy so I can get some laundry and dishes done. I usually have the boys "help" me with them but I really was not up for that so.... I put Becca in her high chair and covered her tray in cherrios. Then I printed out some activity sheets from the computer. I found some great preschool mazes and word searches which are Michael favorites here. And then who can go wrong with Mickey coloring pages for a two year old from here. I even let Jon use markers. He is always begging for markers but I usually insist on crayons for him. However, I realized how much easier it is for him to make bright color markings with the markers - he just cannot push hard enough with the crayons. The boys had a blast.

Of course as soon as I got the boys settled I turned and found Becca had already cleared her tray. Luckily she is so fascinated watching her brothers that she lasted through chore time like that.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Two and Half

We officially have a two and a half year old in the house now (or as I like to think of it - we are half way through the terrible twos). Yesterday was Jon's half birthday. Michael was very set on us making him a cake, but as we are not big cake eaters (I find myself eating it just so it won't go bad) I talked Jon into brownies. I made them while he was napping and we had them for a snack as soon as Tim got home from work. This was the first time Jon was really able to blow candles out on his own which he thought was great!

Afterwards we went to Chuckie Cheese for dinner and fun. Jon is really getting to the age where he can get into the games there. He likes the popcorn catcher, is afraid of the hit the sharks as they pop up game, and tries with all his might to shoot hoops. His favorites, though are the slide and the race car driving. He needs a parent to sit in the play area half way up the steps because they are too big for him to get up on his own but he is thrilled each time he goes down the windy slide. And as for the racing, he has more fun "playing" the demo. The great thing is that this makes his favorite two things free!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The best indoor winter toy

A year or so ago we visited friends in Canada that have 4 children close in age to ours. They have turned their basement into a playroom and the boys had a blast down there. One of the favorite activities was turning the music up loud and jumping on the mini trampoline. Since then I have been on the lookout for one on craigslist and this past fall I found one!


We had to spray it and leave it in the garage for a while since it came from a smoking house and stunk, but since it has been inside it has provided hours of entertainment! It's a fabulous way for little ones to get their energy out when couped up in the house in the winter. And you have seen that even Becca likes to get in on the fun, crawling up and down.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Can I just say, "How cute can she get?!"




OK, mom - stop taking pictures and pick me up!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jon in pink

I must start by saying that Jon and Becca have been wearing the same size cloth diapers for a while now. Mostly this makes my life much easier since I don't need to keep their diapers separate. I did, however, purchase some pink and purple diapers a couple of months ago for Becca, because after two boys I'm loving the girly stuff. When given the choice the other day, Jon picked out a pink diaper. He looked at me like he wasn't sure he was allowed and asked, "Pink?" Now I've never told him he couldn't wear it but we have just avoided them for him up until now. So I sat there for a minute with the parental dilemma: Do I let my kid express his independence or encourage him to conform to social customs so he doesn't get laughed at? I decided I didn't want to force gender stereotypes on my child (helped along by the fact that he is still too young for people to really tease him for it now).

And now I have a great picture to save for his wedding!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Soup Day

Perfect end to the cold week have been having. We have members of Tim's old band, Silent Bark coming over for dinner before they play a gig in Holland and I'm going to make soup.

First up is a very classic chicken noodle.
Bake and then cut up some chicken - season as desired.
Mix half chicken broth half water in a large pot and put on high. (sometimes more water if need be)
Add cut up carrots, celery, and seasonings (for me usually Mrs. Dash and some salt/pepper)
Add chicken pieces at some time.
When it is boiling throw in uncooked egg noodles.
Cook for about 10 minutes until noodles are soft.

Second is the easiest crock pot chili I have ever seen. The recipe was given to me by my Aunt Jane probably for my wedding shower and I just found it recently and we loved it!
chicken breasts cut up
1 jar salsa
1 brick monterey jack cheese
some onion
1 jar northern beans
Put everything in a crock pot on high for 3-4 hours.

Now the other half of the warm soup meal is some buttered bread with cheese (usually colby jack) to dip in the soup.

Oooh I can't wait to eat tonight!

Friday, January 21, 2011

My sweet babies

OK, so I never thought I'd be that mom but there are times that I can't believe my babies are growing up. I've always been excited for the new milestones and the new stages in life and I absolutely love how my kiddos are growing, but at times.... Here are a few of my rambling thoughts and some recent pictures of the best "babies" in the world.

Michael: We are getting ready to sign him up for Kindergarten - when did that happen. He is going to be going to school all day, but lucky for me only three days a week next year. I never thought I'd want to home school. I love teaching a big class and I love the experiences of the classroom for my kids. However, with only one in school I'm already feeling a bit of the school business, especially since Michael likes to play sports after school too. I can't imagine how busy things will get with all three in school and trying to manage after school activities. When will we ever have family time? I'm starting to wish that the part time school that Michael is doing now could last for many more years. Oh and on top of all that, Michael has lost his third baby tooth now!
Crazy Hair Day
Crazy Hair Day

Boxing (Notice the missing tooth, but no, it didn't happen here.)
Michael the boxer

Jon: He is leaning to play - he can entertain himself for hours with cars, dinosaurs, cars, music, cars, puzzles, and did I say cars? He is our social one and we are thinking he might enjoy preschool next year (that is if we can get him potty trained which he is adamantly against at the moment). Part of me thinks that because he is still in diapers I can still think of him as a baby, but we are already getting out 3T clothes for him and he is now talking in full sentences and paragraphs and has very strong opinions about his life to communicate. No longer can I just dress him, take him places, offer him food to eat, and pick out toys and expect him to just go along. Thankfully he is still a cuddler and will come up and say "I want snuggle Mom."
Playing guitar like daddy
Budding guitar player

How did he get so daring?
Daring Jon

Becca: Poor little Rebecca has been sick this week with a bad cold. A couple of times at night she has been crying and not able to breath well with her stuffy nose. I've gone into her room and picked her up. We sit and rock and she snuggles down in, calms, and falls asleep in my arms. I realize how safe that must feel for her. I am her everything right now - I feed her, clothe her, hold her, love her, play with her, everything. That makes me feel exceedingly special. But soon that will begin to change, most noticeably because we are getting ready to wean her next month. Now I have never loved nursing. I feel that it is important and I'm very proud of making it almost a full year with all three kids. I never thought I say this, but a small part of me is going to miss it. I worked soooo hard to overcome so many troubles early on and stuck with it even when it was tough and I felt like quitting. If it turns out that we don't have another baby, I may be closing the door on this part of my life next month. How do my babies get so big so fast?

Becca can pretty much get anywhere she wants

Here is her funny scrutchy nose face she makes to get us to smile and laugh
Crinkly nose face

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cup Stacking 2011

A couple of weeks ago I was writing what was suppose to be our family Christmas letter and was obviously a New Years letter by then. (If you would like to read it go here.) When we looked back on our year we realized how much of it related to cup stacking. I guess that is becoming our family thing. Instead of turning into a "soccer mom" I'm becoming a "stacking mom" traipsing my family all over the country to cup stacking tournaments. Tim and Michael already hold records and Jon almost has the cycle completely figured out before 2.5 years old. Even Becca loves the cups and comes crawling as soon as she hears the boys at work.

Well now we are getting ready for cup stacking season and the cups are flying every day. Here is Michael's current at the speed of lightning video. The full cycle took him less than 9 seconds. I'm pretty sure I've never done it that fast.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lake Effect

Living in Grand Rapids we experienced lake effect snow, but not to the same extent that we see it here in Holland. For the past few weeks we have had snow falling almost every day. It is never heavy enough to cancel school, but it is enough to put down a couple of inches each day. I've never been a huge fan of love, but I've got to say it has been beautiful to watch it fall every day. And since we get a little bit spread out over time, it is always covering the dirty snow with a fresh layer.

We have taken the kids out a couple of times to play. Michael has a blast making snow angels and playing snow football. Jon really doesn't like it much and is often seen crying - poor thing, although he can be distracted with a lot of work. Becca is fine to just sit and watch unless she gets snow in her face.

Here are some pictures from a week or two ago:






Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The rooster

Michael loves to sing. His Sunday School teacher says that they sorely miss him when he isn't there because he inspires the others to sing louder (probably so they can be heard over him). She is quoted as saying, "OK everyone, you need to sing louder. Michael you are doing just fine."

However he is 5 and he doesn't always get the lyrics right. My favorite right now is the line "Shout it loud from the rooftops" from David Crowder Band. It comes out, "Shout it loud like a rooster!"

Of course there are times when he does get the line right and I wish he wouldn't. One of his favorite CDs to listen to in the car is by Common Shiner - a band that Tim was a founding member of back in his bachelor years. The line Michael says is his favorite - a belts it out over and over is "If this whiskey doesn't kill me then you surely will." My hope is that it stays in the car and doesn't get repeated at preschool....

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I'm 34!

I remember turning 30. While I kept a smile on my face I was screaming inside - how could I be 30?! I loved being in my 20s and couldn't believe that it was already over. Well, I come a long way since then - 4 years to be exact. Michael of course asked me how I was turning. I hesitated at first - "Ladies don't say how old they are" right? But why is that - why must we always pretend that we are younger than we really are? I made a decision then and there that I was going to be proud of being 34. God is good and he is with me every year of my life. I need to embrace each year he gives me. Loosing my mother has taught me how little we know about our futures. There is no reason for me to always be waiting for some future time in my life. At the same time, there is no reason to wish I could go back and relive my 20s - it just won't happen. So for now I'm going to live my year as a 34 year old and proud of it!

And on a side note, when I got up in the morning on Friday I found cards from Michael and Tim and a small wrapped box from Tim waiting for me on the kitchen table. Michael had hand made me two cards, including one with a birthday cake with all 34 candles - they wrapped all the way around both sides of the cake. The present was:

Now I just need to pick out some fun new music to dance to!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Oh the questions

My two year old is driving me crazy. You'd think I'd remember how to parent a two year old since I did it three years ago, but I guess the details get foggy with added age and pregnancies. Jon talks nonstop, mostly asking me questions. "What this, mo-eee?" (Mo-eee is mommy without the middle consonant sound.) "Where daddy?" "I play I pad?"

My least favorite is this question conversation that we seem to have at least twice and hour:
Jon: Where daddy?
Me: Daddy is at work.
Jon: Daddy work?
Me: Yes, daddy is at work.
Jon: Oh, daddy work.
Jon after a short pause: Where daddy? (with a giggle)

To top it all off, Jon has been deciding that he doesn't want to take naps this week. After a few minutes in bed he starts yelling asking if he can get up. There doesn't seem to be anything I can do to get him to stop yelling, no matter how much I assure him that it is still nap time, so it is either let him get up or let him wake up his sleeping little sister. Yesterday I let him get up, so my nap time hour was even filled with the constant questions. Ahhhh!

I think that someone should invent an answer doll - a toy that could answer my son's questions for him. Since we seem to hold the exact same conversations each day I would just need to program the doll to recognize the question and give the appropriate answer - in fact, Jon would probably get a kick out of an incorrect answer too since his sense of humor is developing so fun.

Then instead of "wait for dad" I could say, "go ask the doll."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Becca Climbs

While Becca has climbed up on a landing once or twice before, she really got into it on Sunday at Grandpa's house, climbing up the step to the kitchen. Then there was the minutes of careful reflection as she peaked over the step contemplating how to get down. She went head first, but so carefully and slowly that she was so steady and in control the whole way. She did it again today, but this time I turned around and she was sitting on our little trampoline. I got pictures of the getting down for you:







How cute can she be?!!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


When I was a young child my parents read the Narnia books to my brother and me. I remember cuddling on the couch with them or laying on the floor in front of them listening and loving them. Then we got an abridged version of them on tape and I would listen to that over and over on the floor with my tape player until the tapes started to crackle and became hard to understand. When my younger siblings were old enough I remember reading the books to them. And this past week and a half my family has listened to them in the car as we traveled.

For anyone who has to take a long car ride I strongly recommend books on CD. It really makes the time go by so quickly. With Michael old enough to follow along some we felt that the Narnia books would be just perfect. As of today we have made it through 6 of the 7 (we finished Magician's Nephew on the way back from my dad's house).

It got me thinking though about reading more books to my kids. We have tried getting books to read to Michael before bed, but by that time of night Tim and I are spent and ready to just be done with the day so we always skip the reading. Instead I think I will find time during the day to read aloud to him (and Jon and Becca although I doubt they'll sit still and listen much...). Narnia might need to wait for a bit, but he got some magic tree house books and Mr. Popper's Penguins for Christmas so we have plenty to start with.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Home again home again jiggity jig

Well maybe not "jiggity jig" but we are back home after a week + in Boston for Christmas. We had an absolute blast! The grandparents, aunts and uncle spoiled our kiddos with so much attention and love and we all had so much fun. Here are some snapshots of the week:

On Christmas day the kids got stockings first thing in the morning. While the family all said that they would not get up too early for presents, most of them seemed to join us for the stockings by 7:30 am. The joy of kids opening stocking Christmas morning was just too tempting for them all.

After everyone was dressed it was on to presents. Michael and Jon had so much fun with the opening of presents. As they were handed out they went from person to person asking if they needed help opening the present. They quickly got their hands on almost every piece of wrapping.

And of course their was the fun of being ooohed over by the great grandmas that day too.
Great Grandma

Great-Grandma and Sue

Another fun activity for the week was making and decorating and of course eating Christmas cookies.
Cookie cutting

Decorating cookies

But all things must come to an end and we are now back at home to start off the new year. I asked Michael what his favorite thing was about going to Boston for Christmas. He thought for a minute and said, "I can tell you what wasn't my favorite - coming home." While the kids really do well in the car, the trip was certainly too long for anyone's liking. On the way back we stopped over in New York to see Tim's grandfather and then spent the night in New Jersey before continuing the next day. So this meant 8 hours traveling Thursday and 14 hours on Friday. The worst was probably the over 2 hours it took us to get out of Manhattan which according to Google maps was 3.3 miles.

Back home today, though, everyone was happy to be here. Tim and I were thankful to have our own bed last night instead of an air mattress. Michael and Jon were happy to play with toys that have been untouched for a week - most noticeably their football. They played "Hut Hike" a lot today which as Michael explains is, "Just like football but called hut hike." It consists of Michael holding the football, yelling "hut hike" and running at Jon who tries to grab him and pull him to the floor. Then they both start laughing and start the process all over again.

Becca was thrilled to have space to crawl around where someone wasn't always stopping her from touching everything. It is amazing how much she can progress in just a week. Prior to our trip she has been trying for weeks to crawl inside our coffee table, and this morning she succeeded. I of course left her fussing about getting stuck to go and grab the camera. Here she is: