Thursday, June 8, 2017

Finding Timmy

One day last summer, we went for a walk through some woods in Harrison.  Among the other memorable events of that day, Eric found a snail that he named Timmy.
Unfortunately, it was clear to everyone but Eric that Timmy had--long before--passed away.
Not wanting to hurt our little guy's feelings, we didn't say a word about this.
Somehow Timmy got "lost," though, when we got home, and Eric felt really sad not to have him around.
Not long afterwards, we were picking blueberries in Grandma and Grandpa K's backyard (far from Harrison), and we saw another snail.
"TIMMY!!" Eric shouted.  And we just left it at that.
I encouraged Eric to let Timmy stay near the blueberry bushes, where he was happy--and Eric was more than willing to accommodate his little pet.
Since then, Eric has found Timmy in the most unexpected places--he's been at the park, the school, the church, various gardens . . . he's just everywhere, especially when it rains! 
During the winter, Eric often asked about Timmy, and I told him we'd see his pet snail again in the spring.
Sure enough, outside the library today, Eric found Timmy.
We had a disposable container in the car, so Timmy rode home with us--
but once again, Eric was happy to let him go free outside. 
He knows he'll turn up again.
Eric held up a little leaf umbrella to protect Timmy from the pouring rain.
And from a mom's point of view (a mom whose older kids had kept pet snails in containers on the porch or deck), I have to say this really is the ONLY way to keep pet snails. . . .

Monday, June 5, 2017

Year-End Recitals

Our year of piano and violin lessons ended with some beautiful music
 at our kids' concerts these past two weeks.
Ben's concert was first--he played "March of the Ents" from Lord of the Rings--a very dramatic piece. 
A couple of days before the concert, Ben had his last piano lesson with his teacher, who is retiring after many years of teaching.
She was planning to have a group class that evening, but Ben wouldn't be able to attend because he had an art class at the same time--so his teacher told him to just come for his regular lesson.
We didn't know Ben's teacher was planning to have a party with the group class . . . but not wanting to leave Ben out of the fun, she had a party separately with just Ben.  They ate chips and Rice Krispie treats, then had a water balloon fight outside--just the two of them.  I still laugh whenever I picture it!
Then last weekend the girls had their concert.  Alaina played "Chimes,"

and Janae played "Mouse in a Coal Bin" (both the same pieces they'd performed at the spring festival).

Janae was able to jazz up her teacher's otherwise all-piano recital this year by bringing in a friend from school and playing a duet--Janae on the piano accompanying Katie on the violin as they played "Go Tell Aunt Rhody."  They'd also performed this piece together at their school talent show in May.
After the piano, Janae had her violin recital.  She played "Long, Long Ago," accompanied by her teacher. 
Shortly after this, Eric made it clear he couldn't handle any more audience time--he ran up to the front of the small room, popping the air from his cheeks very loudly as another girl was performing.
Needless to say, I spent the rest of the afternoon killing time in the hallway.  That was a long concert!
But he still got his chocolate ice cream afterwards. . . . 
Yesterday, Janae performed "Yellow Submarine" with her violin class at the music school's "Tribute to the Beatles" year-end concert.
I love all the music--in our home all year long, as well as at these final performances, and am so proud of my developing musicians.
I will keep working with my developing audience member :)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

My First Teenager

 Yesterday my first baby . . .

became my first TEENAGER!
It's hard to believe that little blonde-haired boy is now this giant kid who makes me feel short . . .
and is almost as tall as Jason, too (they already have the same shoe size!).
He has a deep voice (that still squeaks now and then), cuts our grass (and is hired by other people to cut their grass),
plays songs that are too advanced for me on the piano,
looks after his younger siblings,
and has already finished Grade 7.
He celebrated yesterday by opening his new Lego set (he still loves Lego!) going to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2, coming home for his favorite dinner (still homemade macaroni and cheese!), and then blowing out the candles on a cake with his cousins and grandparents (he still loves Star Wars, too!).



They brought him 13 chocolate bars--he was pretty happy!

We also watched some home movies of Ben as a toddler and laughed about how funny it would be to re-create some of those scenes.
I am so grateful we had Ben first--he is the best big brother ever, the most thoughtful helper for me, and just a great guy to have around. 
Even if he has made me the mom of a teenager!
Really, though--it has happened so gradually that it actually feels okay :)

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Say No to Compulsive Picture Taking?

If you look at the pictures on my phone, you might notice a recurring theme.

Some people have a lot of pictures of their pets . . . or of their kids . . . or even of themselves.

I'll admit I have one or two of each of those.

But a disproportionate number of my pictures are of Eric asleep.

Almost every night, I am with Eric when he drifts off to dreamland, and most nights I cannot resist taking a picture. 


I've thought about this a lot and wondered why. 

Here are a few ideas:

1.  Eric is the first baby I've had while in possession of a phone that takes pictures.  I usually have my phone in my pocket, so it's there and ready whenever Eric might happen to fall asleep.

2.  It's usually just Eric and me by the time he falls asleep--the other kids are already sleeping in their beds, and the house is calm.  This is the perfect time for me to reflect on how sweet my kids are and how quickly they are growing up . . . so I take a picture to remember this fleeting time of having little ones. 

3.  Eric is so CUTE when he falls asleep--those light golden eyelashes, the way he cuddles a stuffy (usually George), and how he still looks like a baby with those chubby cheeks. 

4.  Eric still cuddles with me as he's falling asleep--maybe taking a picture will help me remember these sweet moments.

Now that I am aware of this trend, though, I can do something about it.  I have already forced myself NOT to take a picture of Eric sleeping for a couple of nights, and I am feeling surprisingly okay. 

On the other hand, though, would it not be interesting to go to the opposite extreme and take a picture EVERY night (no exceptions) and then have a complete set--documenting the transformation of a child as he grows?  Eric and I might have been just the team for such a project . . . and now it is ruined!

Speaking of a Few Changes . . .

I wrote about our changes with the rooms--and that has made a big difference in our house, but what I really cannot get over is the changes we've made to the outside of this house.

When we moved here it looked like this:

Photo courtesy of Google maps--it was too ugly to photograph, so I didn't take any "before" pictures.
and now it looks like this:
It is still not our dream home or anything, but every time I drive away or pull in, I am once again blown away by the changes Jason was able to make. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A Few Little Changes = A Lot of Work

A couple of weeks ago, Janae started talking about how much she wanted to have her own room.  I told her about some things I wanted but couldn't have.  Then she started talking about how much she needed her own room.  I came up with a couple of ideas about how she and Alaina could make their sides of the room more separate.  Then Janae came up with a plan to move all the rooms around so nobody would have to share:
Ben could have Janae and Alaina's room
Alaina could have Ben's room
Janae could have the Lego room.
It sounded so logical . . . and why not?
The girls had Thursday and Friday off of school, so we'd have the time.  I had a bad cold/sore throat/headache, but the kids were so excited about the "move"--they would do all the work.
And so it began.
First we cleared out the Lego room and set it up for Janae.  We had to take her bed apart to fit it in, and move the very heavy wardrobe.  Janae had to get rid of A LOT of stuff, since her old room was much larger.  But she was happy with the change.
Next, we cleared out Ben's room.  Ben had A LOT of stuff under his bed, but we finally managed to pick it all up . . . and move all of Alaina's things in (we had to take her bed apart, too).
The girls are still pretty close together, but they each have their own space--so exactly what they wanted.
And then the nightmare really began--clearing out Janae and Alaina's room.  The biggest problem here was that the girls had already moved on to setting up their new rooms . . . I had to keep calling them back over to pick up everything they'd left behind.
Eventually we had enough room to move Ben's things in.

And with all that space, he got the bookshelves from the dismantled "library" as well. 

Even though the kids were off school, Jason--of course--was working all day Thursday and Friday, and also had school Thursday evening, so he missed all the "fun" of moving this big, heavy furniture.
We missed violin lessons on Thursday and Friday afternoons because I COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT THEM (they did not even cross my mind), Ben took Thursday afternoon off of schoolwork and had to do it on Saturday.  I shed a few tears of frustration and raised my voice a few times. 
BUT, it is pretty much done--and everyone is happy with the changes, at least for now.
And the local thrift store ended up with at least 15 bags of pretty good stuff to sell :)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

It Just So Happened to Be Earth Day

Yesterday was kind of a busy day. . . .
Alaina competed in a piano festival first thing in the morning.  This was both girls' first year being part of the festival, and it was much more formal and intense than I had imagined.  Still, Alaina did a great job playing "Chimes" (which she'd started practicing at least 10 times a day after I'd started offering leftover Lindor Easter chocolates for every 5 times she played the song!).
Yesterday it was also our family's turn to clean the church, so Alaina and I met Jason and the other kids over there as soon as she'd finished being adjudicated.
Ben was a little behind on his school work, so he had to spend the rest of the day writing, and I was spending any spare moments I had helping him type up poems he'd written for an English project.
In the afternoon it was Janae's turn to compete at the festival, playing "Mouse in a Coal Bin."  She played flawlessly and with complete confidence--which is what we should have expected after the amount of practice time she'd put in over the past couple of months!

 After Janae had finished, she asked if we could go to the nursery and get some flowers to put into a little garden bed she had weeded out and turned over in our backyard the past couple of days before.
Jason and I both said no--we'd already had such a busy day.  Jason had school work due by 10 p.m., I still had to do the laundry and make dinner. . . . 
But Janae was persistent--she'd worked so hard, we wouldn't have another chance to get plants for at least a week, maybe we could just go look and then go back and get the plants another time?
Janae had also just finished reading The Secret Garden and was dying to have a little garden of her own. 
I was finally swayed and drove off with Janae, Alaina and Eric to "look" at plants.
Of course we came home with everything we needed to plant the garden. . . .
And since I did still have to do all of my work, Jason took a break from Pathway to help the girls arrange their flowers and get them planted.

They were pretty happy with the results. . . .

AND it just so happened to also be Earth Day.  So we felt pretty good about having "accidentally" done something plant-related :)

And now the girls will be able to keep the celebration going with all the weeding, watering, fertilizing, and any other plant care they can think of to do for the rest of the spring and summer!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

We Finally Had a Spring Break

This year has been different for our family: with Jason in school, we have had to make a few changes--including staying home for spring break.  Of course we still celebrated Jason's birthday with a Mexican party,


went to the park A LOT,

and tried to find some other fun things to do,

The zoo in the rain

A cold and windy day at a nature reserve
Ben helped Eric make a robot costume.
Five guys on a rocking chair . . .

Alaina got about 10 inches of her hair cut off, and donated her ponytail to charity.
but it wasn't the same as going away.

Jason's semester didn't end until the middle of April . . . so we took advantage of the long weekend and spent a few days away from home at Anita's.

We got to see the new house where they will be moving at the end of this month. 

We also spent a day at a farm,

The kids got some leftover balloons from a birthday party :)

Even the big kids had fun playing!

went to the Cheesecake Factory for the first time ever,

Jason had to help me choose--I ended up with the Key Lime and LOVED it!
and spent Easter Sunday together.
My favorite picture from the egg hunt
Somehow Ben has grown taller than Jordan and Kya!
Janae let Summer play her violin?!
 It was so nice to get away, and to spend some time with Anita's family. 

And now it's on to the last stretch of school before summer. . . .