Picture Perfect

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, get ready to read a novel. I have a whole bunch of stuff I’ve wanted to share but have been lazy about getting off the camera.

Christmas tree with presents

Christmas tree with presents

Stockings left by Santa

Stockings left by Santa

The destruction after opening presents.

The destruction after opening presents.

Scot got a wookie robe for Christmas.

Scot got a wookie robe for Christmas.

Outside Phipps when we went to see the Winter Flower Show at night.

Outside Phipps when we went to see the Winter Flower Show at night.

Also at the Winter Flower Show. These things changed color.

Also at the Winter Flower Show. These things changed color.

Scot does his best Vanna White.

Scot does his best Vanna White.

Eleanor Grace Rigby Roosevelt-Taylor

Eleanor Grace Rigby Roosevelt-Taylor

My Valentine's nail design

My Valentine’s nail design

I finally got around to making me look like me again. I dyed my hair. Subtle change but I'm back!

I finally got around to making me look like me again. I dyed my hair. Subtle change but I’m back!

This is how my kids play in the snow.

This is how my kids play in the snow.

This was Liam's birthday cake. I was pretty proud of it. It's festive!

This was Liam’s birthday cake. I was pretty proud of it. It’s festive!

 

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The Kids Are All Right

My kids, man. Growing up so fast.

Liam

I had his parent teacher conference this week and I am so incredibly pleased. First of all, despite a bit of a rough start to the year, his teacher adores him and is willing to buck the system for him. In turn, I just adore her. She’s the best teacher he’s had so far at the school. I thanked her profusely for putting Liam in math enrichment and her response was “I know we have a system and I know we test the kids but I see what goes on in the classroom. He deserves a chance to be challenged in enrichment and if it doesn’t work out we can pull him out. But he’s doing really well and it has increased his confidence and participation in class.”

Then she told me that he’s a “leader in the classroom” and works well in groups with all the kids. He follows direction and does his work without complaint. He grasps concepts quickly and is able to apply them to more complicated things.

Y’all. I think I’m going to explode with pride. In the same breath, I know that this is his accomplishment. It’s been his hard work and his desire to learn that got him here. All I did was make school a priority in our house – from making time for homework to insisting on a consistent bedtime so he gets enough rest.

He is enjoying school this year. He isn’t complaining about having to go and he comes home excited about the things they’re doing. Once again, he’s pulling straight A’s.

Jamie

When I think about Jamie, one word comes to mind: challenging.

There are times when he is so different from his brother that I find myself floundering with how to deal with him. And then I flashback to Liam at this age and I remember how exasperated I was with him. I remember that there were days when I wished I didn’t have to pick him up at preschool and how I felt like I was raising a little terror because the SASS that would spill from his mouth was ungodly.

Then I flash forward to now and I realize that this too shall pass. So I clench my teeth, take a deep breath, and try not to lose my cool with Jamie. This is only moderately successful.

However, he is suddenly becoming more and more ready for Kindergarten. He is SO BORED here at home and even 3 days a week of preschool aren’t enough.  His mind demands input and so I am peppered with 27347930203947839 questions per day that drive me to seek out just 5 seconds of SILENCE – usually while locked in a bathroom.

In the last couple of days he’s started mostly dressing himself. I know, I know, at 4.5 years old he should have been doing this ages ago. You try arguing with an obstinate redhead who doesn’t want to listen to you about where the tags go and how to put one foot in each pant leg. Imagine my surprise when he managed to put on underwear, pants, and socks without help. Then, when I put the shirt over his head, he did the rest. He dressed himself while I made his lunch this morning and those few minutes I didn’t have to spend getting him into clothes made a HUGE difference in how rushed the morning felt.

Last night we went out to dinner to celebrate Liam’s grades and while we were waiting for our food, Jamie was coloring and doodling on the kid placemat. I noticed he had written some letters so I asked him to write his name. AND HE DID. He needed a little prompting with letter order (“J. A. And then?” etc) but he got it and he wrote it all down.

Also, his speech is improving. He’s getting those back of the throat k’s and g’s more frequently on his own when working with the speech therapist. We’re not seeing it here at home yet but she said that’s normal. However, when I correct him, he can fix it every time. Also, he was talking to me in the car this morning and I realized that every word of a particular sentence was intelligible. Not just “hey I understand your pidgin” but “hey, anyone could have understood that! Every single word of it!”

Now I just have to survive the next 10-ish months until I can ship him off to Kindergarten.

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Kid-isms

Kids get to a certain age and they just become FUNNY. Now, I have two of them who are like this and we have lots of laughter in our house. I’ve gathered up a bunch of things that these two have come out with over the last several months that made us giggle. Beware, it is not a short list.

——–

Liam was doing something strange – as is his wont – and I told him he was odd. His response?

“Yes, I am odd. It’s part of my charm.”

His self-confidence is just the BEST.

———

Scot was using the bathroom one day and Jamie followed him in. He’s still sort of fascinated by the pee-standing-up thing. So he was watching Scot do his thing and he starts chanting:

“wait for it…. wait for it….”

Oh, child.

———-

I was going out one day and leaving Jamie with Scot. I asked Jamie if he could do me a favor and behave for Daddy.

“Yes, I be very have for Daddy.”

———-

It’s a well established fact that Liam is a LEGO nut. He has all kinds of kits and he builds all sort of things with random parts he has laying around. He came to me one day and announced “My new goal in LEGOs is to build a toilet. I’m going to put little brown LEGOs in it.”

And he did:

LEGO Toilet

LEGO Toilet

———

Toward the end of the school year, but before the weather really warmed up, I had the following conversation with Liam one morning before school.

Liam: Maybe you need to drive me to school.

Me: No, I’m not dressed.

Liam: You want YOUR SON to get frostbite?!

Me: Nice try, kiddo.

———-

I don’t remember the context on this one but it kind of speaks for itself.

Jamie: Please have one more baby, Mom.

Me: NO.

———-

All in one morning as we were getting ready for school, I got these two things from the kids.

Liam: My subconscious doesn’t want me to go to school.

Jamie (wandering about with a single sock on): I only wearing one sock because only one foot is cold!

———-

Sometimes what they say makes me melt instead of laugh.

Jamie: Mommy? I miss Liam. He my best boy.

Liam to Jamie: Brothers are ALWAYS best friends.

———-

One day we were on our way home in the car and I flipped on the radio because Jamie wanted music. I managed to stumble on a station playing A-Ha’s “Take On Me.”  Liam listened for a few minutes while I sang along and then said, “That sounds like videogame music!”

Whippersnapper.

———-

Over the weekend, Scot and I were putting together a bookcase for our bedroom and Jamie was watching. He kept trying to hand us tools and was sort of obsessed with when we might need the hammer. Finally, Scot says:

Scot: Are you Captain Hammer?

Jamie: Yup!

Me: Is the hammer your penis?

Jamie: (pause) YUP!

———–

Jamie is a chatterbox. He *never* stops talking. It’s exhausting sometimes. One day I asked him:

Me: Jamie, do you EVER stop talking?

Jamie: Sometimes.

Scot: When? I’d like to plan my day around it.

Jamie: Sundays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Okay, then.

———–

When Jamie was in the throes of the Terrifically Terrible Threes, I took some video on my phone of him having a tantrum. Basically I did it because it was funny to me and because then I could show Jamie just how ridiculous he looks when he’s having one. (And, surprisingly, showing it to him will generally make him quit with the tantrum.)

So, one day I pulled it out and showed him.

Jamie: Stop it! It freakin’ me out!

———–

One day, Jamie walked in on Scot getting dressed and said “Wow! You really, really hairy!” Scot then offered to shave his  body hair and glue it to Jamie’s face.

Jamie: You gonna make me BARF!

Get used to the hair, kid. It’s your eventual destiny.

———–

I don’t remember exact context on this one, either. But again, it speaks for itself.

Jamie: I not a monkey buns! I a HOBO!

———–

When Jamie is lazy about doing something I ask him to do or doesn’t want to walk where I tell him to I’ll say something like “Do you have two broken limbs? No. You don’t. So go do it yourself.”  One day he walked up to me and asked me to pick him up and carry him. (He’s pushing 45 pounds, FYI). I refused.

Jamie: But I have 2 broken legs!

Good try, kiddo but the fact that you’re standing there negates your statement.

 

Gardening Gurus

One of the advantages to having a Father-in-law who is an avid gardener is that I get his left over flowers when he plants in the spring. On Saturday afternoon he brought me 2 and a half flats of various flowers that needed homes. On Sunday the boys and I happily gave those flowers a home in our gardens.

The kids were really excited about planting them. I was a little surprised they even wanted to help in the first place. They were both so worked up about it that I could barely get things organized so we could get started. Liam helped me dig and plant while Jamie helped us both fertilize and water each plant.

Liam kept saying “This is FUN!” and Jamie was just too excited for words. I managed to dragoon Scot into playing photographer so we have pictures.

Rabbits Ears!

Rabbits Ears!

Poor long suffering spaniel

Poor long suffering spaniel

Digging in the dirt

Digging in the dirt

Helping Mommy with the fertilizer

Helping Mommy with the fertilizer

And brother, too

And brother, too

Watering!

Watering!

A photo of the elusive blogger in the wild.

A photo of the elusive blogger in the wild.

Even outside Ellie demands a lap to lounge in.

Even outside Ellie demands a lap to lounge in.

We planted some shade plants in the back yard and then out in the front we planted some more sun loving plants. I’ll take some more pictures when they’ve had time to establish themselves and spread out a bit.

As always, there’s more work to be done but I’ve gotten more done in the gardens outside than I have in any other year we’ve lived here except for one. In fact, I’ve probably done more this spring than all last year combined.  Now that I know the kids like to help with some things, I can put them to work!

Halloween Part I: Pumpkin Carving

We finally got to carve pumpkins this year after two years of missing out. Honestly, without Hurricane Sandy spreading her nastiness and giving everyone a day off I’m not sure I would have found the time. But since everyone was home on Tuesday with nothing to do we carved.

I started out working with Jamie who helped me design his pumpkin and then I went to work carving it. I have to say, that one was a total pain in the ass because the pumpkin had very thick walls and it was tough to safely get a knife through it. I was grateful for a simple design.

Then I moved on to helping Liam. He drew his own face on his pumpkin and even got to do some of the carving this year. I was so happy for him. I loved to carve pumpkins as a kid so I’m glad he’s old enough to start learning how to do it himself.

 

Once he had completed his, I moved on to mine. I decided to actually carve a picture instead of a face and I sort of freehanded it while looking at one of those paper designs. It was too much work to actually pin the design to the pumpkin and do it like the directions tell you to.

L-R, Jamie’s, mine, Liam’s. Not too shabby!

Finally, I pulled out the stick on decorations left over from last year and told Liam to go to town on the one pumpkin we managed to salvage from our summer as pumpkin farmers (the second one rotted on the vine before I could harvest it).

Here’s all four pumpkins on the front steps.

Due to hurricane delays, we won’t be trick-or-treating until Saturday night. Stay tuned for pictures of the boys in costume!

A Week With Cousin Becca

Last week our niece came to stay with Grandma and Granddad for a whole week and my kids got to play with their cousin almost every day. All the kids loved it and we met up to do some fun things while Becca was here (the last of which being Kennywood).

One morning we headed to the playground for some climbing, sliding, running, and swinging.

Another day we headed to Soergel’s orchard.  I had no idea this was an attraction for the under 10 set but it is. Playgrounds and farm animals!
Waiting for Grandma and Becca

Driving the tractor.

You’re taking our picture? 
Locked in jail!

The kids had a fantastic time hanging out with each other. Next summer should be even better as Jamie will be older (and hopefully napless) so we can do more things with less tantrums.  This year, Jamie went three days without a nap and it almost killed him (and us).

So, now we’re on the home stretch before school starts.  We have two full weeks plus a couple of days and then it’s time to put Liam on the bus for second grade.

Kennywood!

On Saturday – the most blazingly hot day I’ve spent outside in years – the extended family went to Kennywood.  It was the first time our kids had ever been there and they had a blast.  I would have enjoyed it A LOT more if the weather had been a tad more cooperative. Over 90 and high humidity made me feel like crap.  I’m surprised we didn’t collapse on the way back to the car.

On to the pictures!

Liam and I preparing to ride the ParaTrooper. NOT OUR BEST DECISION.

After riding the ParaTrooper. NO ME GUSTA.

“MOTORCYCLE!” Jamie screamed and had to ride it.

On the Orbiter

Liam and Cousin Becca on the flying elephants.

Pretty girl Becca 
Granddad, Scot, and the boys on the S.S. Kenny

Scot just loves this ride!

I don’t know why Liam is making this face but it’s hilarious.

Loving the Lil Phantom!

A sign we did Kennywood right.

I’d be willing to take them again next year but when it’s COOLER.  Hauling 40 lbs of Jamie around in a wagon just about killed me (and says a lot about my lack of fitness).  However, they’re never going to get me to ride the big coasters with them. NOT A CHANCE IN HELL.  They’ll just have to figure that out on their own. Seeing as Liam wasn’t a super fan of the ParaTrooper either, I’m probably safe. At least for a little while!