Monday, November 30, 2009

Double Birthday Party Addendum

I forgot to include the pictures of Aunt Dacia's birthday present for Meg. Here's Meggers a few days after the party, modeling:
Double Bday 7

My lands, those are some mighty decorative jeans!
Double Bday 8

And they fit perfectly too. Thanks, Dacia!

Double Birthday Party

Earlier this month we had the great pleasure of a visit from these folks:
Mom and Tom 2009

Dave's Mom and Tom hail from a tiny (and slightly swampy) mound of earth known as Merritt, Michigan. It's a good 12-hour drive from here, so we don't get to see them very often. In their honor, we held an extra birthday party for the kids--late for Matthew (September), early for Meg (December). This meant that Grandma and Grandpa got to see the kids open and enjoy their gifts, and the kids... well, they got to open and enjoy gifts! Definitely a win-win.

Meg about to start into her pile:
Double Bday 1

This was the first time Matthew really understood and got into opening presents. He still needs some help getting off all of the paper.
Double Bday 2

Rain hat and Cars sticker courtesy of Aunt Dacia. Thanks, Aunt Dacia!
Double Bday 3

Blowing out candles together:
Double Bday 4

Double Bday 5

Matthew and the M and M cake:
Double Bday 6

The cake is sort of a funny story. I had grand plans to whip up a quick box mix and then spend the extra time decorating. It was supposed to be a fish cake, since we were going to the aquarium later that week, and both kids love fishies. I found a gorgeous example cake on the Family Fun site and was all set to work some cake magic!

Well, the cake didn't come out of the pan. I don't know quite what happened, as I haven't had a cake stick in years. I greased and floured the pan to perfection, let it cool in the pan for the recommended time, but when I turned the pan upside down and lifted... a wide and shallow crater appeared right down the middle. After a little bit of whining, I took it as a sign from the Lord that my original plan was overly ambitious (i.e., foolish). (And given the limited time I had that day, it certainly was.)

We ended up setting the missing chunk of cake back in its hole and frosting it liberally with a luscious buttercream. Meg chose green food coloring--after I said we couldn't do pink for Matthew's sake. (Mint green cake... hmm.) As a finishing touch, I cut out a stencil and made two M's with colored sugar: one pink, one blue. The blue M got two candles beside it; the pink M got four candles beside it, and that was it. My beautiful (ahem), hastily-conceived, Plan B cake.

And you know what? No one could have cared less.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mr. Toad

One crisp October morning, I bundled the big kids up and sent them toward the door with strict instructions to stay in our front yard until I got my shoes on and joined them. I dashed upstairs to rummage through my sock drawer, and as I headed back down the stairs, I heard Meg's voice, yelling. She sounded alarmed. "Mommy, there's a dead frog in our yard!"

A... dead... frog?
"MOMMY, there's a dead FROG in our yard!"

"OK, Honey, just a minute!" I pulled on socks, shoes, jacket, and skipped out the door. Meg and Matthew were standing on the grass looking uncertainly toward the bush by our front stoop. I headed over to investigate.

It was not dead.

It was not a frog.
Toad 1

It was a sleepy, warty, brown toad. He was fairly large--perhaps a little bigger than my fist. I guess he was camping out under the kids' riding toys for the night, and when they pulled the toys up... he was exposed. Thinking that Meg and Matthew would be entertained--or at least intrigued--by a closer look, I picked up a dried stem from our flower bed. "Come here, guys!" I called. "It's a toad. Look!" I gave it a gentle poke.

The toad stirred sleepily, then seemed to crouch slightly. Hop. At least, I guess it was supposed to be a hop. More like a shuffle really--it barely cleared the ground. But that was more than enough for Matthew. He let out a scream of absolute terror and went tearing toward the sidewalk, where he stood shrieking with horror. Initially, Meg seemed uncertain whether to laugh or follow her brother's example. Eventually she made her way a little closer to the toad and watched its grumpy, reluctant retreat under the bush. We haven't seen it since.

And the point of retelling this encounter with nature? Nothing, really, except to state that a large toad is an incredibly ugly creature. These pictures don't do justice to its warty, pimply, thick-skinned, lumpy ickyness. Oh, I know that God called all of His creation good, and that the toad is part of creation and therefore good too. But frankly, this is one of those times where I just think: If You say so, Lord. If You say so.

Artistic Endeavors

Meg only recently began to move beyond the scribble stage in her drawing efforts. I remember quite well the first "person" she drew. We were on our way to Gran's house on the Fourth of July. (I even recall the stretch of road we were on: Route 15 between Leesburg and Gilbert's corner.) The kids were drawing on their magnetic doodle pads when Meg suddenly exclaimed, "Look! A face!" I took the pad from her extended hand and, low and behold, there it was. A face. A flattened-circle head with eyes, a mouth and legs sprouting from its chin.

I'll admit to tearing up slightly when I saw this wondrous creation. I dunno why exactly... it was just so cute! And... well, I sometimes thought she would never get through the scribbling!

Well, many flattened-circle faces later, I finally took a picture of something she drew! I don't know why, but crayon-and-paper drawing times tend to result only in scribbling, while the magnetic pad inspires Meg's more realistic efforts. And it finally occurred to me that taking pictures is the only way to preserve these sketches, before they--zzzzzzzip!--get erased forever. So now, ladies and gentlemen, after far too much ado, I present my Meggy's very first documented landscape, entitled "The Sun."
Meg's Sun
Amazing, right? (That scribble near the top of the sun is its hair bow, ok? Geez, don't you folks have any imagination?)

One other fun medium we've explored lately is playdough. One of the kids' attempts I just found so hilarious that I had to take a picture...
Playdough 1
The sculpture is there between the two artistes.

Here's a close-up:
Playdough 2

I'm not sure why I find this so funny. Maybe it's the flag? Doesn't it sort of look like a badly-designed monument? A monument to... plastic baby-food spoons? Plastic baby-food spoons and mixer beaters? Plastic baby-food spoons and mixer beaters in America?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

My Second Month (by Esme)

Esme Month 2 5
Mommy decided we were going to have to stop titling these posts "One Month Old," "Two Months Old," etc., as if it we were announcing late-breaking news. Since (if the first few months are any indication) we are likely to post these updates consistently late, we'll use nice, ambiguous titles like "My Second Month," "My Third Month," etc. That way it doesn't matter how much time has elapsed between the month we are covering and the month I am actually living.

At my two-month appointment, I weighed 10 lbs., 7 ounces and measured 23 1/2 inches. I did very well with my first round of immunizations, though I cried for a while in a very cranky, "I-feel-sick" way, later in the day. The only noteworthy item, medically speaking, was that a rash that Mommy and Daddy had noticed on my neck turned out to be fungal. This wasn't a huge surprise since, what with spit-up and neck rolls and what the doctor flatteringly called "fat pads" in my cheeks and chin, my neck must be a moist, warm and altogether hospitable place. Daddy has not ceased to refer to "my fungus" and make jokes about the "fungus among us" since he learned about this little problem.

In my second month I continued to be a sweet (Mommy's word), contented baby with a rather serious outlook on life. When awake, my primary expression is an intent gaze--a bright-and-wide eyed, studious stare. There sure is a lot to take in in this big world--even the small portion of it that I've seen so far!

I did start smiling too, mostly at Mommy. She often laughed at me as I worked hard to find my smile: as Mommy beamed down at me, I would stare at her mouth with extra intensity, then roll my own mouth open wide several times like a cow chewing cud. Sometimes it looked like my lips wouldn't find the proper position after all. But when I finally settled into a gummy grin, Mommy would squeal and gush and kiss me and generally make my labors very worthwhile.

Other notable second-month events include weathering my second cold (much nastier than my first) and surviving a minor car accident with my family (I slept through it). I also got to meet my Aunt Jacque, Uncle Asher and cousins Ari and Aylenne. We'll find out for sure at Christmas, but speculation at our first meeting was that I will outgrow the adorably petite Aylenne (five months my senior) pretty quickly.

Now for a few pictures: this is me (unhappy) with my big sister Meg (happy).
Esme Month 2 1

This is me (now happy) with my big sister Meg (who is saying, "Mommy, I'm all done holding Esme"). You can't win!
Esme Month 2 2

Me with my big brother. His tenderness is touching, isn't it?
Esme Month 2 3

Protested self-portrait with Mommy:
Esme Month 2 6

With a headless Daddy:
Esme Month 2 7

Serious face:
Esme Month 2 9

Mommy just barely managed to capture this, my first photographed smile.
Esme Month 2 8

And here's a slightly better one.
Esme Month 2 10

Hopefully we'll have more of those next time!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gaithersburg Train Station

In September I started a very casual home preschool schedule with Meg--and Matthew too, when he's up for it. We are working our way through the alphabet with one letter each week, doing coloring, crafts and word games related to each letter. Whenever possible, we try to incorporate the letter of the week into our Family Day activities. (For example, in A Week we went Apple picking. In B week we were supposed to go to Baltimore to see Boats, but we ended up staying home and Blowing our noses a lot.)

When G week came along, we headed to the old downtown area of nearby Gaithersburg. The main attraction there, we suspected, would be the train depot, with its cool old buildings and huge antique steam engine. Our kids thrilled to the "live" Amtrak train that came barreling down the line while we stood just a few yards away. (I'll tip my hat to any mom who can see a train fly by her little ones at full speed without her having heart in her mouth until it's safely past.) Here are some pictures from our time hanging out around the station.

Train 1

Train 2

Train 4

I like this one:
Train 5

And I love this one, which was taken by Meg:
Train 3

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I try to get together with my friend Jess every week. What with sick kids, vacations, and other scheduling conflicts, we probably end up averaging 2 weeks a month. Our kids play together, shriek and giggle and whine together, and in between rescues and interventions and stories and tickles, Jess and I try our darnedest to squeeze in a little fellowship.

And sometimes we take pictures.

We have some rather unorthodox house rules, which make way for our children to climb, tumble, flop and bounce on our ancient, slip-covered, fourth-hand (seriously) couch. The kids seem to like it.
Wilcantonio 1

Wilcantonio 2

(Don't worry; my kids won't try this at your house. Usually.)

Moving on to the brown rocking chair (which also has an interesting history):
Wilcantonio 3

Wilcantonio 4

Those are our coasters they're chewing on, in case you wondered.
Wilcantonio 5

And Emma makes four!
Wilcantonio 6

Wilcantonio 7

"Just the girls this time! Ohhhhhhhhh, sea weed is cool, sea weed is fun, it makes its food from the rays of the sun." Whoops. Got a little carried away there. Should have ended the quote after the girls bit. (Can anyone name that movie?)
Wilcantonio 8

The brunette half of the equation:
Wilcantonio 9

And Emma Kate, her Royal Cutie-Pieness.
Wilcantonio 10

Let the Catch Up Begin!

Can you tell that I'm a little behind in blogging? Well, today, with some unexpected "free" time (not that there was nothing else I could/should have done, mind you) on my hands, I opted to upload my lengthy queue of pictures. So here I go, playing catch-up. We'll see how many posts I manage to pound out in the next week or so.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Our Thanksgiving Tree

Tree 1

I think I got this idea from Megan several years back. I tucked it away in my head, waiting for the time when my kids (or at least Meg) would be old enough to participate. And this is the year--hooray!

We started with a roll of brown craft paper and cut out our bare tree. Then we installed it on our dining room wall with painter's tape. Each day in November, each family member (except Esme) gets to add a leaf inscribed with one person or thing for which he or she is thankful. We usually "do our leaves" at dinner time, when we are all together.

I love preparing my own heart for Thanksgiving this way, and I love hearing what my husband and kids are grateful for on a given day. I can't wait to see our "completed" tree (as if we could ever be finished giving thanks!) at the end of the month. How very many gifts God gives us!

Tree 2

Meg's First Poem

Tonight, shortly before bed, Meg sat down beside me and, out of the blue, uttered what certainly sounded like a two-line poem. I've no idea if she meant it to rhyme, or what prompted it, but this is what she said:

"Until the morning I'll sit on this chair,
Sad and worried, I don't care."

Not very uplifting, but there it is. :)