Wednesday, December 18, 2013

All in the Next Three Weeks!

 
I was just thinking, we have only one week until Christmas . . .  

 
two weeks until New Year's . . .
 
 
and three weeks until our baby is due . . .
 
 
I can't help but wonder how it will all play out!
 
It's going to be a pretty exciting three weeks--
and things will never be the same by the time it's all over :)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Back on Track

You might remember that when Ben was little, he kind of had a thing for trains.  Every birthday and Christmas, he would request another item to go with his Thomas wooden railway, and after a few years he had quite a collection. 
 
 
When Ben started kindergarten, though, he lost interest in Thomas, and trains, and pretty much wooden toys altogether--putting aside this aspect of his childhood to make room for his new interest in Star Wars and Lego.
 
I tried a few times to get Janae and then Alaina to play with the Thomas stuff--since we'd invested so much money in it, and I'd put so much time and energy into learning all of the trains' names and characteristics--but they were never really that interested.  
 
And so the tracks and trains have been sitting in our garage for the past few years.
  
Several weeks ago, though, Alaina came across one of Ben's old Thomas DVDs in our box of Halloween decorations.  She wanted to watch it, and then again and again.  Pretty soon we were back to our old ways of singing "Boo Boo Choo Choo" and saying things like, "Bust my bumpers."
 
Alaina asked if we could get the Thomas tracks out of the garage, but I kept putting off bringing in the HUGE bin because I knew it would be heavy to carry . . . and it would mean a lot more clutter in our living room.
 
Finally, though, yesterday I got Jason to haul in the trains.
 
And our kids have been playing Thomas ever since.
 
First it was Alaina and Ben--all afternoon.
 
 
When Janae came home she joined in.
 
 
They didn't want to have their baths because they didn't want to stop playing.
 
And then they opted to play rather than watch a show that evening.
 
 
They wouldn't stop for a story (but listened to a book while playing, so as not to neglect their home reading completely), and we had a hard time getting everybody to leave the trains and go to bed.  Janae and Alaina both wanted to sleep with the trains they'd been using!
 
This morning, when Alaina woke up her first words were, "Can I play trains?"  And then when Ben got up a few minutes later Alaina asked him, "Do you want to play Thomas?"
 
 
After church it was the same thing.  And even still, late into the afternoon, they are playing Thomas. 
 
 
It's funny that toys that have been sitting in the garage could have this much appeal . . . but it's so fun to see all three kids playing together and having such a good time.
 
Ben remembers his youth.
 
 
Janae gets to exercise her dramatic abilities.
 
And Alaina has lots of new characters to capture her imagination.
 
I don't know how long it will last--but at least for now, it's good to be back on the tracks :)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Janae vs. The Tooth Fairy

You might recall that last spring our daughter Janae lost her first tooth, and then her second, all in one day. 
 
The Tooth Fairy was pretty impressed, and Janae woke up to a $10 bill.
 
 
A couple of months ago, Janae lost a third tooth--one of her top front ones.  When I asked if she was going to put the tooth under her pillow that night, she said no.  Instead, she put it in a little jewelry box for safe keeping.
 
I asked Janae why, and she had a couple of answers.  First, she said she was going to save it until her other front tooth came out, then wrap both teeth up for herself and put them under the Christmas tree so she could have her "two front teeth" for Christmas.
 
I thought that was pretty creative!
 
Her next idea was that she would wait until she had TWO teeth instead of one to leave for the Tooth Fairy--so she could get $10 instead of the measly loonie or toonie she'd seen her brother Ben get for a single tooth.
 
Janae had learned that two teeth together = $10, and she didn't want less.
 
On Friday Janae lost the second of her two front teeth at school.  She came out of class with the biggest gappy smile--bursting with excitement about having lost her tooth.
 
 
That night she put her plan into action--sealing both teeth into an envelope that was clearly labeled for the Tooth Fairy.

 
The next morning she woke up to a pile of change . . . but when we counted it, it was exactly $10.  Of course the first thing Janae did was run into Ben's room to wake him up and show him :)

 
Janae vs. the Tooth Fairy?
 
Janae wins!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Our DRY and (Mostly) Happy Halloween

Like most children, our kids get really excited about Halloween. 
 
Early in September Janae saw a mermaid costume that she had to have . . .
 
 
and Ben decided he'd be Gandalf from Lord of the Rings--which led to my first attempt at sewing a Halloween costume (with quite a bit of my mom's help!).
 
 
 
Alaina went back and forth between wanting to be Rapunzel and wanting to be a witch.  In the end, the witch won out :)
 
 
As soon as school started my kids were begging to go to the pumpkin patch, but I made them wait until it got cooler, and further into October. . . .
 
They found some pumpkins they really liked,
 
 
and some that they were actually allowed to take home.


 
By the time Halloween came, they were more than ready!
 


We ran into their cousins at Grandma and Grandpa's house, and the kids ended up trick-or-treating together at both our neighborhoods. 

 
 
This was much more enjoyable than last year when we were drenched by rain!

 
ALL of the kids lasted a couple of hours--their bags were pretty heavy by the time they stopped.
 
 
 
Then it was time to sort out the candy--one of my favorite parts of Halloween :)
 

 
Unfortunately our night ended with Jason discovering one of our jack-o-lanterns had been stolen and blown up with a fire cracker.  Janae cried and cried because it had been her favorite (carved to look like a cat). 
 
By morning, though, she was happy to pick out a treat to put in her lunch.  And I think it helps that the rest of the pumpkins will soon be muffins and pies, anyway :)
 
We hope everyone had a happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

My Boy and His Fluffy Friend

 
This morning I woke up early to the sound of Ben singing to his hamster.  I didn't recognize the song, but Ben told me later that it was something about peace around the world. .  . .
 
 
It was so sweet that I didn't mind not being able to sleep in on a Saturday :)
 
Ben earned his pet care badge this week at Cubs for looking after Fluffy--pretty much on his own--for the past three months.
 


This really just involves a bit of cleaning the cage, refilling food and water, and making sure his younger sisters don't give the little guy too much love.
 

 
But Ben often goes beyond the basics, giving Fluffy long pieces of paper to stuff into his cheeks and fresh fruit and vegetable pieces to eat, talking to him, and--as previously mentioned--serenading him with new songs he's learned at school.



















 
 
I think a far as pet hamster lives go, Fluffy has a pretty good one . . .
 thanks to his friend Ben :)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

One Happy Pumpkin

Alaina was so excited for her first preschool fieldtrip today--a visit to the pumpkin patch!
 
 
Even though we'd been there dozens of times, it was fun for Alaina to meet up with her class and have an actual tour of the farm.

 
We saw the new baby chicks and even got to pet one!  We also got to pet a soft white bunny, and to look at the pigs and goats.

 
After visiting the barn we went on a hayride to see the apple trees and pumpkin patch.
 
 
Alaina chose a perfect little pumpkin with a nice long stem.
 
 
Then we ended the afternoon with a taste of apple cider and a juicy apple to eat.  As I was finishing Alaina's apple off, she said, "Mom, can you feel the good going into you?"


My little girl was one happy pumpkin :)  I'm glad I could go with her!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Our Laina Turned Four!

It's hard to believe it was FOUR years ago that Alaina was born into our family!  She arrived the day before Labor Day, two days before her big brother Ben started kindergarten.  And--as anyone who knows her could tell you--she has been adding love and happiness to our family ever since.
 
 
This year Alaina wanted to celebrate her birthday with a Rapunzel-themed party, so for the past few weeks we have been working on making long braids of hair and floating lanterns . . .
 
 
not to mention figuring out how to make a cake with an eatable tower for Rapunzel to stand beside.  Somehow we made it happen :)
 
 
Alaina also asked to celebrate with her cousins and grandparents, so we got the big group together!
 
 
 Our little four-year-old got LOTS of wonderful gifts--the movie Tangled, Polly Pockets and accessories (including a car!), some new clothes, books, and art supplies, and a very fluffy Princess kitty cat. 
 

 
She was a happy birthday girl!
 
She and her cousins played outside until dark, and had a great time together.
 
And as for all that braided hair that took SO many hours to create . . . 
 
 

 
 

I have a feeling it will continue to bring hours of fun for our two girls, now that they are finally allowed to play with it :)
 
Now that Alaina is four, she will be on to bigger things, including her new ballet class, and also preschool twice a week.


 
Alaina has been looking forward to turning four for quite some time, and I don't think she's been disappointed :)  We are so happy she's our girl!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Room for One More?

At our house we are no strangers to babies, although it has been awhile since we've had one of our own. 
 
Do you remember these giant blueberry eyes ... or that wild dark hair?
 
 
 
Even little Alaina--our most recent addition--has been around for almost FOUR years.
 
 
 
And they have definitely grown into a nice, well-rounded group of three.
 
 

 
This group, though, is scheduled to change from three to FOUR . . . just after Christmas when a new little brother or sister is due to arrive.

So, we will be making room for one more!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Reading Club . . . Winner?

 
When it comes to parenting, my one source of pride is that all three of our kids love books and reading :)  But recently Alaina, particularly, has proven herself to be an outstanding example of this great legacy.


The day after school ended, I took Ben, Janae, and Alaina to the library to sign up for the summer reading club.  We have been members of this club every year for as long as I can remember, and even Alaina (who was only two years old at the time) earned her medal last summer by reading with her mom or dad for at least 15 minutes a day for seven weeks.

But this year, Alaina is more dedicated than ever.  She wakes up in the morning and asks, "Can I do my reading for the summer reading club?" 


She somehow got the idea that she has to read the books herself, rather than just listen to them--so she will tell me the stories (often quoting the actual text word-for-word and pointing to the lines as she "reads") before she will let me read them to her. 



Whenever we read a book Alaina asks, "Can I write this on my summer reading club sheet?" and sometimes she even records the titles in her own handwriting.  (You should see her "E"s--she draws a series of horizontal lines, rather than just the usual three, making the letter look like a ladder!)

Alaina reads first thing in the morning and last thing at night (even taking "one more" story into her bed to read before she goes to sleep).  She reads in the car (and has to be holding a book on our way out, no matter where we are going or how short the drive will be) and even as she is walking along.


 She is actually sitting on the couch right now, reading another book!


The other day Alaina smiled and announced, "I'm going to WIN the summer reading club!!" 

We're not quite sure if we'll need to break it to her that the club doesn't actually have a winner, but just awards a medal to each child who completes the required reading. . . .

But if the summer reading club did have a winner, I feel pretty sure that a little girl in our house would be a strong candidate :)