Friday, August 28, 2009

Five Months

Our little Harper girl is 5 months old already!  I can't believe it.  In some ways, it feels like she has always been here with us, and I can barely remember life before her.  In other ways, it feels like just yesterday she was a tiny little thing rocking in my lap at 4:30 in the morning.

Now she is about 17 pounds or so and growing like a weed.  For the most part she is wearing 6-9 month clothes (this little denim skirt is size 12 month), and her little thighs are just so cute and chunky.  This is the only time in her life when thighs can be described as both cute and chunky.  She's still our most laid back, easy going baby.  With the boys, I had their days scheduled to the minute.  I fed them at the exact same time every day, they napped and went to bed at the same time every day.  Things are a bit different with Harper girl.  I think because she's having to fit around everyone else's schedules, she's just more flexible than the boys were.  She eats when we need to feed her, naps when she's tired, and sleeps like a champ all night long.  For the last couple of days, I have even had to wake her up in the mornings to take Dane to school at 8am.

She's loving her rice cereal 3 times a day, and still takes her dear sweet time drinking bottles.  Did I mention she was flexible?  We were running errands today at lunch time, and Harper ate her rice cereal from her car seat carrier in the Jiffy Lube waiting room.  I am a multitasking queen.  An oil change and baby fed in just 15 minutes.
She loves playing peek-a-boo and her brothers can always make her laugh.  Daddy's singing usually will quiet a fussy Harper, but mommy's singing does the opposite.  Everyone's a critic!  Harper rolls over all over the place, and is working on sitting up by herself.  She can "tripod" sit up a little, but she's got quite a bit of body mass to coordinate vertically.  Not to mention getting that huge melon head balanced.

I think it's time to retire the bee dress.  Harper has gotten so tall that it's really more of a tunic than a dress.  I just had to get a couple more pictures of her in it!
I think this "bee" ribbon in her hair is the cutest thing ever, Brandon just thinks it's weird.  Maybe I'm just excited because she's finally getting the teeniest bit of hair to hold little clippies in :)
On a completely unrelated note, I love my new floors.  Love them so much that it was (almost) worth the hurricane to get them.  Almost.
Harper girl, as much as I can't wait to know the little girl you will become, to hear you speak words and see you play with your brothers, a part of me wants to bottle you up at this age and keep you this sweet, laughing baby girl forever.  

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What We're Learning in Kindergarten

Dane's first day of kindergarten was Monday, and boy are we learning quite a bit already!

Dane had a great first day, marred only by a 45 minute wait time at the end of the day to pick him up.  That's right, Brandon, myself, Aidan, and Harper all waited in the carpool line for 45 minutes to pick him up after school.  Yuck.  The last couple of days the line has been much shorter, so hopefully it was just a "first day" thing.  

Lesson #1:  Don't show up to pick children up until 10-15 minutes after school is out.

Not surprisingly, Dane's favorite part of the day involves PE and recess, and yesterday Dane bounded into the van proclaiming that he "learned to hula hoop".  You won't hear any criticism about public education here.  The child has successfully learned to hula hoop in the first three days of kindergarten.  I think this will prepare him well for a career in the circus.

Lesson #2:    Hula hoop=good.

Dane had a "card turned" (I haven't quite figured out what this means.) for playing with the hand dryer in the bathroom.  This, of course, is Dane's version of events, with Dane himself starring in the drama as the innocent accused.  According to him, cards get turned for very minor infractions, including playing with the hand dryer in the bathroom.  I'm pretty sure there's more to the story than that, but this doesn't seem dramatic enough for me to send an e-mail to his teacher asking for details.  After all,Mrs. G  has 25 kindergardeners and their parents to deal with all by herself.  Pray for her, please.

Lesson #3:  There's a lot of rules to learn in kindergarden.    
There's a poster on a teacher's wall somewhere that says, "Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarden".  Needless to say, I am a little worried about this.  What is he going to learn for the next 12 years until college?  He will be so bored with school after this year, because he will already know everything.  And by "everything", I mean mad hula hoop skillz.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Interview with a Four Year Old

Happy Birthday Aidan Cooper!

It was this day exactly four years ago when I was blissfully being pumped full of morphine after having my abdomen cut open to deliver you, my 8 pound, 9 ounce screaming pink boy.  Your daddy held you for much of the day, and your big brother thought you were the coolest gift he's ever gotten.

In honor of your birthday, I thought I would conduct a little interview, to later remember a little slice of who you were at this point.

What can you do when you're 4 that you can't do when you're 3?  I got new hair and I get to wear the Hulk shoes.  (Translate:  He thinks he got a haircut last night and got to wear Dane's Hulk tennis shoes).

What was your favorite part about being 3?  Getting a new baby sister.  (This answer may or may not have been fed to him by his prodding mother.)

What's going to happen at your birthday party?  There's going to be 2 slides.  There's going to be lots of kids singing at my birthday party.  Lots of kids and babies and grownups and people and lots of butts.  (Actually, there will only be one water slide at the party.)

What's your favorite song?  Happy Birthday to you.  Happy birthday to you.  Happy birthday to Aidan.  Happy birthday to you.  I want a Lego Indiana Jones cake.

Do you remember the hurricane?  The tree falled on our house then it got banged right up.  Then there's people came and all the fixer guys fixed it back up.  We lived at Uncle Tom's house.  

Tell me about your birthday.  I like the part where we ate cake.  I like the part where we opened the Policeman Legos.  And I liked the part where we cleaned up the Legos.  And I like the part when we're getting in our pajamas.

What is your favorite Bible story?  Jesus dying on the cross.  The knights with shiny armor put nails on his two hands and nails on his legs and Jesus died on the cross.  Then blood squirt out of his thumb and his foot.  Jesus was behind the stone, then Jesus was alive!  Then Jesus went up in heaven.  Then the disciples went to see him.   One of Jesus' disciples name is Peter.  He has a sword.  And the second part I like is baby Jesus.  Baby Jesus got borned, then Mary found baby Jesus, then she gently laid him in the manger.  The she picked Jesus up from the manger, then I like the part about the brave queen in the blue suit got the beautiful ring and she didn't like Jonah.  Jonah got ate by a big ole fish.  (Wow.  That's like 12 different stories intermingled.) 

I love you A-man!  I'm so excited to watch how much you grow and learn.  I think this year, with my big 4-year old, will be the best one yet!  Happy birthday big boy!

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I love going back and looking at pictures of Dane and Aidan when they were babies.  Blue eyes?  Check.  Big round heads?  Check.  Chubby, squeezable cheeks?  Check.

I love Aidan's pink eyebrows (what happens when fair-headed babies scream and cry)  And looking at him and seeing Brandon's clone--from the squinty blue eyes and blonde hair to the long legs.

I love Dane's "sweet potato" nose and constant hamming for the camera.  Every baby picture I have of Dane is smiling, and almost every baby picture I have for Aidan is screaming.  Little did I know how telling that would be...
And Harper?  I'm surprised those sweet cheeks haven't been all kissed off with all the lovin' she gets from her parents and brothers.
We're enjoying our last weekend before school officially starts in our neck of the woods.  Brandon took all three kids to "Meet the Teacher" last night while I was at work and heard a couple noteworthy things including, "Wow!  You sure have your hands full!" (said by about 20 people), and said to Dane's teacher, a very young Ms. G by another parent:  "My daughter reads 50 books.  I'll get you a list.  She is very smart, but she can misbehave if she is bored and not being challenged."  Translate: "My daughter is going to misbehave in your classroom.  And it won't be my fault or her fault.  It will be your fault for not challenging her enough."  As a mother and a nurse, I am fully qualified to interpret the language of I Am Incapable of Taking Responsibility for My Own Actions.

And I am so glad to hear that our national language is being passed on to our future generations.  A language that our blue eyed, round headed, chubby cheeked offspring will not be learning from their parents.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Breakfast of Champions

Look who finally started eating cereal this week!
I think she liked it.
Actually, I think she would have eaten the spoon if she could.
"Where have you been all my life, oh, Gerber Rice Cereal?"

Needless to say, adjusting to Harper's new feeding routine (it now takes an hour and a half to feed her cereal, bathe her, and give her a bottle in the morning) has helped take my mind off the fact that we are now T-minus 5 days till Kindergarten launch.  Yikes!  I just hope Dane's teacher reads this before the first day of school.  I like to keep expectations reasonable.  And Aidan has informed us that for his big birthday dinner Monday night, he would like peanut butter and jelly on toast instead of plain bread.  

That kid really knows how to party.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fun Weekend

I've been having a desire to bake lately.  I enjoy baking chocolate chip cookies from scratch, and I have several cakes that I love making, but I've been wanting to try my hand at something different.  Different for me, anyway.  Every now and then, I find myself on this website, drooling over all the cutesy things she comes up with in the kitchen, wondering if I am capable of making something edible look this cute.  So I decided to try my hand at these, with the full expectation that mine would come out looking like some sort of red alien, and nothing like actual apple-cake pops.

But look!  They kind of do look like apples.  Or strawberries.  Not perfect, but not too bad for my first attempt at cake balls, if I do say so myself.
I also tried a few of these guys:

Sometimes when he's feeling rebellious, he likes to grab a friend or two and hang out in the shot glass that my husband brought back from a mission trip:
Friday night we went up to our church to do a little fishing in our quickly-getting-overpopulated pond.  Aidan caught a Tilapia (it's catch and release, so no fish gutting for this mommy).  He was pretty proud of himself, even if he was a little afraid of the fish.
Thursday night we stopped by my Uncle Tom and Aunt Carol's house for old times' sake.  Unfortunately, Harper went from happy to vomiting to fussy to sleeping in a time span of about 15 minutes or so, and I didn't get any pictures of her with her extended family.  Dane and Aidan ran around chasing each other and had their shirts off within about 5 minutes of our arrival.  Figures.

And the brothers have decided that Harper needs her own hat.  Dane and Aidan have these cute knit hats with their names on them, and Harper loved trying Dane's on for size.  I guess it helps a bit that she's not quite coordinated enough to pull the hat off her head.
We are gearing up for a week of pre-kindergarten jitters (mine, not Dane's) and Aidan's upcoming 4th birthday.  (His birthday is Monday the 24th, which also happens to be Dane's first day of school.  But the birthday party is over Labor Day weekend.)  

Happy Monday!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Brother-Sister Prayer Time

We say prayers with the kids each night at bedtime.  Brandon was gone the other night (he usually puts the boys to bed while I feed Harper), so we had sibling prayer time downstairs before bed.  They loved it.  The boys prayed what they thought Harper would be thankful for too.  And we have several missionaries that we pray for.  (Andy Rodriguez was at our church a few weeks ago, and we had lunch with him afterwards.  He's kind of a rock star at our house, since we pray for him and his ministry every night.)

I know it looks like our children are summoning the spirits of their dead ancestors in this picture, but trust me, they are praying:

Dear God,

Thank you for Mommy and Daddy and Harper.  Thank you for diapers and bottles.  Thank you for D.U. and Mihai (missionaries in Romania), and thank you for Andy Rodriguez teaching all the people in Japan about you, God.  Please let him have chairs and a church and people so he can have a church there, God.  Thank you for all my friends at church, God, and to let us chase after you.  Thank you for our friend Pablo, and Brian in Africa, and please help them to have food and clothes and a school (these are the Compassion kids we sponsor.)  Thank you for Thailand and please help all the people there to know you.  Thank you for all our really cool posters and for the whole world.  And thank you for Jesus who died on the cross for our sins.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Last Vacation Post I Promise

The last leg of our 6 day family vacation (can anyone say "too much time in the van"??) was spent in Wichita, Kansas visiting Brandon's grandparents.  Grandma Helen has met Harper before, but we went and had lunch with her on Friday, and went back to her apartment where she tried to give us all of her books.

Look!  Photographic evidence that I was also on the trip!  Of 300 pictures taken over these 6 days, this is one of only 2 that I am in.  I'm usually behind the camera.
Also photographic evidence of Harper's huge melon head, and the reason she always wears a bow.

One of the highlights of the Kansas trip was Peepaw's new ride:

I'm curious as to how I can take a picture like this one and it comes out great, but when we go to a studio for a family picture, we come out looking like we have been wrestling barnyard animals, sweat gleaming from our foreheads and babies looking distraught.
We loved seeing our Kansas family and spending time with everyone.  Brandon's uncle and his family stopped by for a bit Thursday night and we had a great time talking and catching up while the boys played Nintendo DS (Aidan had his Leapster and he felt so big).

Friday Dane woke up with a pretty bad croupy cough.  Usually when he gets like this, it clears up as the day wears on.  But Friday the cough stayed, along with some stridor, difficulty breathing, and fever.  I was feeling a bit jumpy because of my nephew's recent hospital stay for croup, and I went ahead and found a doctor's office that would take him at 7pm on a Friday night for a breathing treatment and some steroids.  (If anyone is keeping count, that is 2 doctor visits plus a hospital trip to see Zane on our vacation).  By Saturday, Dane was on the road to recovery, and we were on the long road from Kansas back home.

We will spend this week unpacking and catching up on laundry and housework, and nursing our dying lawn back to life with a rigorous watering schedule.  The grass was re-sod in March, and we've already killed a good portion of it.  And let's not talk about the plants in my flower beds, may they rest in peace.  I'll also spend a couple of days lamenting the fact that my big boy starts kindergarten in just two short weeks.  

Speaking of kindergarten, I ventured out to the WalMart yesterday, school supply list in hand, only to discover several things:

1.  Our WalMart does not carry manila paper.

2.  Mommy might start to hyperventilate while simultaneously navigating the crowded school supply aisles, looking for said allusive manila paper, and thinking about how her baby is going to kindergarten and will soon be going to college and then getting married and moving very far away.  Did I mention that the "dorm room supplies" are positioned right next to the elementary school supplies??  These WalMart people are MEAN!

3.  I also had to buy rice cereal for a certain little baby who's not quite so little anymore.  Harper has recently objected to being cuddled while taking her bottle, and wants to be fed instead "baby calf style", held upright, her head craned up drinking from her bottle.  (Have you seen how a baby calf drinks from a bottle?)  So since she's past the 4 month mark, the pediatrician gave us the green light to start solids.

4.  Our WalMart does not carry diet coke with Splenda.

All in all, a very tragic and emotional WalMart experience.  Which explains the peanut butter chocolate cookies that ended up in my cart.

Hope your week starts off better than mine has.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Does Ft. Worth Ever Cross Your Mind?

Wednesday afternoon after seeing and doing all there is to see and do in Glen Rose, we took our Chicken Express and high-tailed it outta there. We headed up to Ft. Worth to Brandon's parents' ("Grammy and GranDoug") house to spend the night before heading out for Wichita, Kansas the next morning. It was supposed to be a few hours of peace and relaxation before another long car ride the next day, but alas, it was not to be. Not for me anyway. 

With my sweet nephew Zane a mere hour away hooked up to a ventilator in the PICU and his parents there needing some Mandy Hugs (side note: I'm not the most "touchy feely" person, so Mandy Hugs are a remarkably fast, slightly uncomfortable event for everyone involved.) But there are certain occasions where no amount of patting on the shoulder and encouraging words will substitute for a Mandy Hug, and visiting my 1 year old nephew in the PICU with tubes coming out of everywhere is one of those occasions.  (Sidenote:  Zane is feeling much better and was discharged home this afternoon.  Yay!)

So while I was spending a couple of hours getting behind every idiot driver in the DFW metroplex, Brandon and the kids stayed at Grammy and GranDoug's house and tormented Harper with a grasshopper from the backyard.

I love this outfit of hers with the strawberries and will be a little sad when fall comes and she can't wear it anymore.
After a yummy dinner of steak and potatoes (I'm sure there were other foods there, but what's the point?), the grownups sat at the table for a bit, smiling at Harper, while Aidan snuck out the backdoor and smashed his thumb with a dumbbell.  He ran inside screaming that "something is hurting" cry, blood running down his hand.

After a quick assessment of a nasty purple thumbnail, Brandon proclaimed that Aidan needed an xray stat!  Most of the time with these types of injuries, people have a purple, bruised up nail for a few days, and the nail eventually falls off, but no serious problems.  But apparently, Brandon knows the one guy who actually shattered the bones in his finger smashing it with a dumbbell, so Aidan and I ventured out at 8:3o in the evening to a clinic and had an xray done.  

The highlight of Aidan's evening (who was fine and all but forgot about his thumb once the blood was out of his sight), was getting a big blue dressing on his thumb by one of the sweet pretty nurses.  After she was done wrapping him up, Aidan tiredly laid his head back on the bed and proclaimed, "I almost died!!"  That child is all about the drama.

Harper and Dane enjoyed some quality time with the family while Aidan was recovering from nearly losing his hand in the freak dumbbell accident.

So for those of you keeping track: that's two clinic/hospital visits so far on our family vacation.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Glen Rose

We arrived in Glen Rose, Texas Tuesday afternoon after taking the scenic route up from Galveston.  No trip through backwoods, Texas is complete without a stop at Dairy Queen for some Blizzards.  (Hello, Girl Scout Thin Mint Blizzard.  I can’t believe we haven't met before.) When we got to town, the boys, once again, spent some quality time in the hotel swimming pool before we ventured out to parts unknown in search of dinner.

Brandon and I don’t like to go to places like Pizza Hut and Subway when we’re on vacation.  We like to find little restaurants that are perhaps unique to the town we are visiting.  After consulting the lady at the hotel front desk, we decided on a little BBQ place that promised blackberry cobbler for dessert.  (I’m kind of a fan of blackberry cobbler, incaseyoudidntknow).  Unfortunately, the cobbler place and the next four restaurants we passed were closed, their signage advertising Friday and Saturday hours only.  What kind of town is this?  Don’t they know that people flock by the tens to Glen Rose on Tuesdays in the comfy heat of August?  Most of the cute little shops downtown, including a charming looking establishment called Pie Peddlers, were closed during the week. 

 We finally settled on a little “home cookin’” type of restaurant:  BLTs, chicken fried steaks, breakfast for dinner, etc.  Only they also had an entire page on their menu with Mexican food on it, and served chips and salsa before the meal.  Interesting.  Chips—good.  Salsa—good.  Pancakes—good.  So basically the perfect restaurant.

 Brandon and the boys did a little exploring without me and Harper on this leg of the trip, as I knew they would.  I knew we would be looking at dinosaur tracks in a river bed, and had a sneaking suspicion that the trails would not be very stroller-friendly.

I was right. 

The boys also had an adventure at a little place appropriately named “Big Rock Park” while Harper and I rested at the hotel Tuesday afternoon. 

Anytime Dane and Aidan do outdoorsy stuff with Brandon, I can bet that they are a bit more “adventurous” than I would be comfortable with them being.  

Again, I was right.
Aidan can do this with no problem, yet he finds a way to injure his thumb on a dumbell (more on that later).

Wednesday morning we got up bright and early, determined to see some dinosaur tracks before the heat was downright sweltering.   

Mission accomplished.

Harper loves dinosaurs over breakfast.

We also stopped by the little Creation Evidence Museum and admired more dinosaur artifacts intermingled with ancient Christian artifacts.  The Museum also boasted The Most Expensive Souveniers in History, which we did not partake of, much to the chargrin of the boys.  ($10 for a placemat-sized dinosaur poster, anyone?)


Look, kids!  A giant replica of a footprint that you can sit in!  

After the museum, we broke our restaurants-on-vacation rule and hit up the Chicken Express for some tenders and fried pickles on our way out of town.  We headed up to Grammy and Gran-Doug’s house for the rest of the day. 

(Quick nephew Zane update:  As of yesterday evening, he was off the ventilator and the tubes in his mouth and nose had been removed.  He had been breathing on his own with supplemental oxygen, and planned to be moved to a regular room out of the PICU if things continued to improve.