Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Sweet Harper Girl,

I must say, baby girl, that this age, 18 months or so, has been my favorite stage with you ever. I want to bottle you up and keep you at this age for a while. You are just so cute and happy right now. You talk quite a bit these days, and are picking up new words all the time. "Side" (outside) is a new favorite, and you have come to learn that when you say "peease" with a big smile and bat your impossibly long eyelashes that your daddy will give you pretty much anything you want.

You got a new sister last month, and over these last few weeks you have come to love her. I gotta be honest, you weren't so sure about her at first. You bit Emerson several times over those first few weeks, even breaking skin a couple of times. We adjusted some nap schedules, and you haven't bitten her in a couple of weeks now. The two of you still have some normal sister-fights when both of you want the same toy, or when you take Emerson's shoes and wear them as you are playing, but most of the time you get along great. She is quick to tattle on you if you are doing something she doesn't approve of, and will run to us, pointing to you saying "Harper-lo!"

The two of you love your shoes and purses and cell phones, and mommy is getting a very small glimpse of life 12 years from now. You love to have your baby doll wrapped in a blankie, and rock them back and forth, and I don't think there's a funner toy in our house than an empty laundry basket.

Your hair is getting longer, and we tried out a new hair do the other day.

LOVE it.

Harper, you are a girl who enjoys her beauty sleep. When we say it is nap time, you will start up the stairs on your own, waving and saying "night night". You go to sleep with a smile most of the times, and wake up and entertain yourself in your crib for a while before you're ready to get out. We have come to learn that you need this "wake up time", and are quite the bear if we get you out of your crib without giving you those few minutes to put on your happy face.

Bedtime is also a favorite time. Mommy and Daddy put you in Emerson's bed for prayer time, and you LOVE it.

I think you're secretly waiting for the day when we will just forget to put you in the crib and leave you in her bed to sleep.

Sometimes we pretend to do that, and turn the lights out and say goodnight.

Emerson's not a big fan of you in her bed for too long, though.

(Harper looks EXACTLY like Dane at this age in this picture.)

We love you so much, mei mei Harper! Please don't grow up too fast, baby girl.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Another Weekend Recap

Please excuse the writer's block and complete lack of motivation on my part to sit down and blog anything. I've been taking advantage of Netflix and catching up on 4 seasons of 30 Rock.

I mean, I've been staying on top of the laundry and cooking dinners from scratch and translating Bible verses into remote tribal dialects while my children take turns singing hymns to each other.

That's it.

A brief play-by-play of our weekend:

--Have one of the boys' friends over to play for a while on Friday. Watch them play in the backyard from the kitchen window, and catch Aidan peeing into his stainless steel water bottle. Promptly bury my head in my hands and mumble to myself something about boarding school. Look up just in time to see Aidan shaking the pee from the bottle onto the slide for his friend to slide down in. Wha? Why? WHAT?? Where do they get these ideas? WHAT ON EARTH?? Male readership, please enlighten.

--After the unfortunate "water bottle incident", slowly lose control of children and sanity while Brandon works till 11pm. Get frustrated with the kids and strap everyone into the van, and drive. And drive, till arriving at a Chic-Fil-A drive thru two towns away. Chicken nuggets for all. Come home, put everyone to bed, and contemplate a swig of Scope mouthwash in the absence of any sort of adult beverage in the house.

--Saturday, with Brandon at work for a few hours, take Aidan and Emerson to Aidan's soccer game. Spike Aidan's mohawk 5 inches in the air in honor of team picture day, only to arrive at field and learn that it was not, in fact, team picture day. Fiercest looking 5 year old ever on the soccer field. Hallelujah, during the game Emerson learned how to say "please" after only working on it for the past month and a half. She has about 20 or so words that she will say on her own without prompting, and she is understanding most of what we say to her these days.

--After a lunch of Nutella and lemon juice, realize that the dreaded trip to Wal-Mart on a Saturday is inevitable.

--Stay home with the napping sisters while Brandon took Dane to his flag football game, where Dane scored his first ever TOUCHDOWN for his team to win the game. And I missed it, and the camera was at home. Boo.

--Saturday night watch as the kids lapped up a dinner of something called "Dorito casserole" and wonder if Emerson thinks that all these white people are crazy for serving her something with hot chips in it and calling it dinner. Serve Emerson second helping of dorito casserole.

--Sunday morning, enjoy uneventful trip to church, where everyone was fully dressed and kept their underwear on the entire time. So what if Aidan was wearing cowboy boots with his shorts. We pick our battles around here.

--Sunday afternoon, take boys to birthday party while Brandon takes a turn with the napping sisters. At party, listen as an "enthusiastically 4-months pregnant with first baby" mama tells an "at the party with 10 day old baby, and my other 2 kids are at home" mama about this book that teaches you how to get your baby on a schedule as soon as you get home from the hospital. And the mama of three was so sweet and patient, and listened to this sweet girl for several minutes, when I probably would have strangled her with a receiving blanket in a sleep-deprived haze. Bless her little enthusiastic heart.

Here's hoping to a Monday of patient friends, a little 30 Rock, and Chinese babies who learn how to say "potty".

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Frames in my Bathroom

We (and by "we", I mean "my mom") repainted my downstairs half-bath last summer.

Let me back up a little. When we moved back into our house after Hurricane Ike, I had to quickly select paint colors for all, yes ALL of our rooms so that the house-guys could paint the walls. I am notoriously bad at selecting paint colors. My kitchen has been multiple shades of yellow, the boys' bathroom and bedroom have been multiple shades of blue, and our pre-Ike master bath was a color that can only be described as "1970's Avocado Green". Our pre-Ike downstairs half-bath was wallpapered a pale green color courtesy of the previous owners that I didn't hate enough to ever go to the trouble of removing.

Back to the "selecting paint colors for ALL of the rooms" nightmare. I picked the same color that we previously had for the kitchen, upstairs playroom, and master bedroom. We let the boys pick an obnoxious shade of blue for their bedroom, because we don't care all that much about what it looks like, and we picked a lighter shade of said obnoxious color for their bathroom. The downstairs living area and our master bathroom were painted a neutral-tan-beige color. Harper's room (I was still pregnant with her when we moved back in) was only primed, because there was no way my brain could process deciding paint color for her nursery at that point. Now, her room is post-it-yellow.

Which leaves us with the half bath. I don't think I pondered any paint color in the whole house more than the color of this stupid bathroom. We finally settled on some kind of "slate" that I pictured a greenish-grey, but was in fact seafoam green once we got it on the walls.

Seafoam green. All it needed was some pale pink seashells and coordinating floral poof curtains and we would be a 1980s living room.

So. Brandon went out of town last summer for a couple of weeks, and my mom came down and repainted the half-bath for me. And now it is a bright turquoise with a few zebra accents in the bathroom and I love it. Still working on it, but I love the wall color. It's very bright, and I would never paint a different room this color, but I love it in my little half-bath.

I got four cute frames last summer for the little shelf in the bathroom, anticipating putting pictures of the kids in them once we came home from China with Emerson.

What a long, rambling story to show you a few pictures, no?

I quickly realized that many of my pictures of the kids looked something like this:

...and I vowed to snap some photos of my kids looking a little normal. Fully clothed, no traces of lunch on their clothes, etc.

Here are a couple of pictures that are in the frames now:

I got Dane dressed the other day and dragged him outside to snap a few pictures of him.
Then Brandon pointed out that his hair is too shaggy and we'll have to retake these after he gets a haircut.

He was laughing because I was making potty jokes.
Emerson insisted on getting in on some of the picture-taking action, and gave me some of her cutest crooked smiles.

Not to be excluded, Aidan insisted on putting an outfit on for his pictures. He put on the requisite "collar shirt", and continued to complete his outfit on his own. Let's not even talk about the white-out that he had painted on his cheek earlier in the day. And do you know how hard it is to get white-out off a kid's face? Almost impossible, even after two showers.

So I humored him and took a few pictures of Aidan in his carefully selected "picture outfit":
By the way, the red soccer socks and boots were also selected as "farm clothes" today, as we headed out to a play date at a "farm".
Oh, I love this kid. Our house would be so normal and quiet without him.
The only question is, which one should I use for the frame?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Weekend Recap in Bullets

--I worked a night shift Thursday night in the ER, and slept half the day on Friday recovering.

--I woke up on Friday, and dragged my cranky, sleep-deprived body to the grocery store so that my family would have something to eat for dinner other than mustard and popsicles.

--Cooked dinner for a friend of mine who just had a baby, including a yummy chocolate cake. Brandon begged me to take the cake to her "precut and arranged on a plate" so that we could sample a couple of pieces without being obvious. DENIED.

--Came home and made another chocolate cake just for us because the first one smelled so good.

--Woke up Saturday morning and headed to the ER for a day of fun trauma and also a few sick people. Saw not one, but two shiny skulls belonging to people who flat out refuse to wear helmets when riding 4-wheelers and motorcycles. My post-lunch activities included irrigating grass and dirt off of (a large portion of) someone else's skull while he took self-portraits of the process with his i-phone. Meanwhile, Brandon was wrestling with all four kids solo to soccer and flag football activities. I'm still not sure who had the easier day.

--Saturday night I ate Blue Bell Southern Blackberry Cobbler ice cream for dinner. Yes ma'am.

--Sunday morning Brandon went to church early, and I had to get all 4 kids and myself ready for church on time. While I was upstairs fixing my hair, apparently Aidan had some "bathroom time", and took wiping duties upon himself. Yes, my 5 year old still needs help in the wiping department. He is a boy.


Fast-forward to 20 minutes later, we are in the church parking lot, and I look in the rear-view mirror to find Aidan naked from the waist down, trying to convince me IN THE CHURCH PARKING LOT that he needed new undies. Not an option, kiddo, PANTS UP NOW. Once we were inside, Brandon got recruited to take Aidan to the bathroom before class and check out the underwear situation. Brandon sits down next to me at church, leans over during the first song, and whispers to me that the underwear situation was worse than feared, and the beloved Spiderman undies had to be thrown away. Another first for our family, Aidan went commando through an entire morning of church.

I so wish parts of my life were made up.

--Sunday morning was Baby Dedication at our church, and Emerson was dedicated and thus got to sit with us in big church for a few minutes before going to her 3's class. The highlight of my morning was when Emerson saw a baptism video on the screens during church and pointed and shouted loudly "Daddy! Daddy!" when she saw Brandon baptizing one of his students. I'm pretty sure every single person in the room heard her.

--For Baby Dedication, the families are treated to a baby Bible, family picture, CD of lullaby music, and a handmade quilt made by our wonderful quilting ministry. Because heaven forbid I actually go upstairs, take a picture of the quilt, and post it tonight, I will just describe it instead. It is bright purple, blue, and green, and has a little patch that says "For this child I have prayed", along with the name of the lady that made the quilt for her. As someone who takes the pants to the dry cleaners to have a button sewn back on when it falls off, I appreciate this quilt and the effort and love that went into it so much. These ladies spend so much time making these quilts for all of the babies, and each one of them are prayed over. Emerson loves it, and is sleeping under it as we speak. And by "sleeping", I mean "babbling in Mandarin and whining a little bit".

--Sunday afternoons, Brandon plays soccer with some friends from church, and takes the boys with him to run around and mooch snacks off of other moms while he plays. About 5 minutes after he was supposed to have left, we discovered that I hadn't washed his soccer jersey from last week, so he dug it out of the laundry basket and went to his game smelling like grass, last week's sweat, and Windex. Laundry: 1. Mandy: 0.

--Sunday dinner: last piece of chocolate cake that Brandon ate half of and cut the other half into a heart before giving it to me, presumably so that I wouldn't be ticked about having to share it.

So, what was your weekend like? Did anyone else skip entire meals in favor of dessert only? Go commando in preschool Bible class? Pick debris from an exposed skull? Do tell.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Meet (more of) the Family

This past weekend Aunt Adrienne and Uncle Jeremy came down and met Miss Emerson for the very first time.

Emerson gets pretty chummy with people very quickly after meeting them. This is more of an issue at, say, the grocery store, than it is with family.

Saturday was also Dane and Aidan's first soccer and flag football games, so we had a pretty busy weekend with everyone. Val and Izzy joined us with the boys, and someone who will remain nameless (her name rhymes with "Handy") had the brilliant idea on the warmest day in the history of Octobers everywhere, to venture out to the pumpkin patch.

Pumpkin patch+ Saturday in October+Bright sunny day+ Crowds of people+ Overpriced activities= EPIC FAIL.

But I love that Aidan's interpretation of "fall clothes" includes green soccer socks and a too-small tie shirt. And Harper? A little bit of a diva.
We had a good time, but it was too bright outside to get any decent pictures, and Brandon and I broke our "we'd rather stay home than be in a crowd of people getting overcharged for stuff" rule.

Attempts at getting decent cousin pictures= ANOTHER EPIC FAIL

Even when we tried to stick all six cousins on a weird hay bale that looks like a turkey, we still couldn't get them to all look in the same direction.

Fortunately, Jeremy and Adrienne were there to help chase these two trouble makers around.
Emerson had a great time meeting her Aunt Ade and Uncle Jeremy, and she is looking forward to meeting her newest cousin coming in February!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Next Eight Saturdays

...will be spent at the soccer and flag football fields!

Aidan is playing soccer this year, and Dane decided to try his hand at flag football for a season. We found a league that has NO weeknight practices, which is a dream come true for our family. The boys go on Saturday, they practice for an hour then have a game for an hour. If this past weekend is any indication, we will be spending quite a lot of time at the fields over these next eight Saturdays.

Aidan played a great soccer game, scoring one goal and playing goalie for a little while, too.

Every week the coach awards a "sportsmanship medal" to one of the kids (till everyone has won a medal), and Aidan of course is very excited for the day when he will win a medal.

Dane is playing flag football on a team with 6-8 year olds. It should be an interesting learning experience for my Dane, he'll probably be just about the smallest kid on the field on any given Saturday.

He played hard, was a good sport, and had a great time playing defense.

And he's number 1 in my book :)

So, what are you doing the next eight Saturdays?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

My Aidan

Sweet Aidan Cooper,

We have so loved watching you be a big brother yet again, Aidan. These past few weeks you have been so sweet with Emerson, playing with her in the backyard, holding her hand at the park, and letting her play legos with you sometimes.

You are five years old now, and still get reminded of that fact on a fairly regular basis when you start to throw a fit or have a meltdown. Thankfully, this is happening less and less lately. Five has been a pretty big year for you so far. You had a big birthday party, then Mommy and Daddy went to China and brought you home another little sister. You have big plans for Mommy and Daddy to bring you home a little brother someday, but I don't see that ever happening, A-man.

You also started going to pre-k twice a week, and have had the best school year so far. Your teacher is wonderful and patient and laid back, and she has seen you in other classes there for the past several years and has figured out just what makes you tick. You are learning so much, and getting better and better about writing your letters, and you come home from school so excited and ready to tell me all about your day. You respond very well to positive reinforcement, and have been excited to show me several of your "goodies" that you have gotten from class. You and Daddy usually stop for an Icee on your way home from school, and I suspect it's one of your favorite things ever, that special one-on-one time with Daddy.

You are going to be Indiana Jones for Halloween this year, and we have been slowly but surely piecing together a costume for you, complete with a brown leather jacket that mommy scored from the resale shop for a mere $8. You also have an Indy hat, whip, and some sort of belt with a weapon on it that Daddy has convinced
Mommy is absolutely necessary for authenticity.

We have come to realize that you are at your best when you are posing for school pictures. Remember this gem from last year?
Your "I Dream of Hawaii in Autumn While Holding a Tiny Pumpkin" picture?

This year the school sent home a reminder note about pictures with instructions to "please be properly groomed and dressed for pictures, shoes will show." You were so good about picking out a shirt with buttons on it, like you know Mommy likes, then took the liberty of pairing it with a pair of camo shorts. You were so proud of yourself for voluntarily putting on a shirt with buttons, that I just didn't have the heart to make you change out of the camo shorts. Daddy completed the ensemble by spiking your mohawk up to the sky, and sent you off to pose for your fall preschool pictures.

Oy vey.
The "I Gaze in Delighted Wonderment at My Future Just Above My Eye Line Whilst Sitting Among the Apples On The Farm and Wearing My Silly Bands and Camo Shorts" picture.

The mohawk only adds a little edginess to the whole shot, I think.

I'm afraid these won't be on the photographer's brochure anytime soon.

I love you so, so much A-man. You are truly the most unique person I know, and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Baby Doll

Once upon a time there was a Chinese baby doll.

Her new mommy loved, and loved her little Chinese baby doll.

Then she started making faces like this

...and this
at her baby.

Another little mommy came along
and claimed that little Chinese baby doll as her own

That new little mommy inexplicably climbed on top of her partner in crime

while her sister went on to play with her new Little People School Bus.

Thank you, Kristin, for the sweet baby doll! It is loved by all of the little mommies at our house!