Friday, December 26, 2008

Laser Tag

Rather than showing you my bloody knee from repeated kneeling while hiding from the other team, here's a photo of my husband who came in 1st place in the first game. We played while we were all in town, and Rollie, Sandi, and Johnny played, too.

Then we came back to mom and dad's house and ate our much-anticipated lasagne dinner in celebration of dad's 60th birthday.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Daddy Is Done

This is what Ryan came home to on Thursday. He had a final presentation and a lesson. He was planning on subbing on Friday but then schools were canceled.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

December Happenings

My mom saved a Raggedy Ann outfit that I wore when I was a baby, and now it fits Abby! It was a hit at our mom's group this morning.

Stephen wasn't sick, but he was definitely tired after a late night the other night coming back from Plainfield. We had another late night yesterday at a saxophone party (late for him anyway - it was almost 10 when we left).

Abby is forming some strong opinions about food and even recognizes some things. She gobbled up her chicken but wouldn't eat more than a couple bites of potato. But she did like the small strands of spaghetti squash that I put in her mouth (as seen here in the photo). At least she likes it more than Spencer does :)!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Watch Out World! Abby Has Something to Say . . .

I wanted to make sure she wasn't just babbling, so I asked Heidi if it counts as her first word ... Abby has been saying "dadat" (or variations similar) to her daddy for a couple days now, and she sure does seem to know what it means!

Here is a shot of Abby taking after her great-grandpa Lindstrom and reading on the toilet. And Stephen demonstrating how to make gingerbread cookies (doesn't he look so bored?).

Friday, December 05, 2008

Picking Up the Tab

Here is Stephen picking up the tab at lunch today. He was eager to do so as soon as the little black book came with the bill. And he was financially capable of doing so because the price was FREE! We got a $10 gift certificate from Lone Star in the mail last week and I figured he and I could eat lunch when we were in that area. He had chicken strips off the kids' menu and I ordered a cup of chili. With the peanuts and bread they bring, we both ate plenty! I did leave the server a good tip, though.

Ryan's semester is drawing to a close. It'll still be another week or so until he's done, but the biggest project was due today, and is spilling a little bit into today. And a master class tomorrow has had him practicing quite a bit.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Visits with family

Sunday Craft Time

I've been wanting to make stuffed grape leaves for awhile--don't ask me why--but I knew it was a pretty involved process. And when I haven't done something before, I tend to look at the recipe every 10 seconds. In other words, I don't attempt projects like this when home with the kids while Ryan is in school. So dad and I got to work when the kiddos were sleeping.

After soaking the grape leaves to remove excess salt, we patted them all dry. We filled them with a mixture of lamb, rice, allspice, and cinnamon. They then simmered for an hour.

We really enjoyed eating them for dinner!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

First Thanksgivings!

We had 5 people in our home today who were eating Thanksgiving dinner for the first time! I got photos of all of them--just not together. In addition to Ryan's immediate family and Grandma Leatherman, we had a friend from Turkey and 3 from Korea.

Here was the menu (Have I mentioned I really do like cooking? It's finding the time to do it that proves to be challenging.):

  • Vegetable Tray with AE dip
  • Chips and Salsa
  • Turkey with Cranberry Sauce
  • Stuffing (Grandpa Leatherman's recipe)
  • Mashed Potatoes a la Grandma Leatherman
  • Black Bean Couscous Salad
  • Broccoli and Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce
  • Rolls
  • Pumpkin Pie (Thanks Susan!)
  • Chocolate Cake from last night

We really enjoyed introducing the turkey and stuffing to our friends from abroad. It's also been a beautiful day, and Stephen has been to the park and the guys even played football in the street in front of the house.

Piano Lesson

I was fortunate enough to capture Abby's first piano lesson.

For Heidi and Anthony

... and anyone else who is interested!

KFC Family Traditions

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Great Grandma

Great Grandma Leatherman is joining us for Thanksgiving here in Urbana. We decided to celebrate her birthday (which was last week) before the festivities tomorrow. So I whipped up this chocolate cake, which was pretty disastrous at times, but tasted spectacular. Stephen helped me decorate it with M&Ms--his personal favorite.

Now we have Dave, Sue, and John also in for a few days, and we're looking forward to a feast tomorrow and time that we can all spend together.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Naptime Chores

Me to Abby: If you aren't going to take a good afternoon nap, then you're going to help in the kitchen.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Slice of Life

Some of you have commented that you like knowing a little about what our daily life is like here. So here is what we are doing right now.

I am trying to get a little time on the computer to check email, look for a few things online, etc. Abby took an earlier nap because she was exhausted by our outing this morning, so now she's awake and sitting on the floor next to me, chewing on a little Jamaican purse. Stephen is up in his room where he is supposed to be going to sleep. Naps are becoming an occasional occurrence, though I don't think he's anywhere near ready to be done with some alone, quiet time in the afternoon. He has already yelled down to me: "TOE!! TOE!!" This is what he says when he needs me to put the blanket on him again. Apparently, his toe is not covered. Then, I usually hear him repeating a certain word over and over again; presumably he is learning to say it better. Today it was Eleanor. I heard: "Eleanor. Nor. Nor. Nor. Eleanor. Nor ..." (you get the picture)

A Day of Firsts

Probably the most significant "first" that happened today was Abby crawling. Now, don't get any pictures in your mind of her getting up on all fours and making a run for the border. She generally goes backwards instead of forward, and usually she gets so frustrated that she isn't going anywhere that she just rolls onto her back and cries for me to come and get her. But she is doing a very earnest army crawl, and I'll be curious to see how many days I have before she's zooming across the room. We figured she'd crawl sooner than her not-in-any-hurry brother, who crawled at 11 months!

Stephen's firsts include pretending to feed Abby's baby doll. I saw him doing it and it was all I could do to not laugh out loud. I asked him what he was doing and he just said, "milk!" I told him that he was being very nice to Abby's baby. My mom said it's good: he's thinking of someone else's needs. (I happen to think he's also imitating mommy.) Another bit of unusual behavior from him was that he asked to go to bed tonight. He put his head on a pile of laundry in the living room, about half an hour before I was going to put him to bed. He said, "sleepy." Sure enough, he went right to sleep when I put him down.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Two Peas in a Pod

Stephen has loved being shoved around in the laundry basket for a long time now. When my parents were here the other day, he would get in and ask grandpa and grandma to push him. I was holding Abby and she started giggling at him, and then was lunging as if she wanted to get in, too. Figuring it was safe enough since she can sit on her own now, I plopped her down next to him. She loved it! She is growing and changing so much and it's fun and more difficult at the same time. She is a typical kid in that she might have 20 things she can play with on the floor around her, and she'll want the 1 toy of Stephen's that she's not supposed to have.

Stephen has been trying to figure out what it is that Ryan really does during the day. He throws words out when Ryan leaves: "teacher" "saxophone" "truck" "keyboard" "school" "bike." And I explain to him what daddy is going to be doing while he is gone.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Cold

It's finally getting cold here. The furnace has kicked on; the mittens and hats have come out of the winter bin; and we can't lazily leave the front door open all the time!

Ryan was with me when we made our first bundled outing. The kids don't need mittens and hats just from the house to the car, but we were walking downtown and I knew it would just be too chilly. We had to go to Heel to Toe to get some Birkenstocks for me to help with my new predicament: plantar fasciitis.

Ryan was up in Chicago today to hear his professor perform. But he's back and working on his project that's due this week. The kids and I managed just fine, thanks to leftovers, the Urbana Library, and a frozen pizza.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Things That Are, and Are Not, Hilarious

Stephen has recently been categorizing. I think he gets this from his grandfather. My dad is great at Scattergories. I think he has every vocabulary word in his head organized alphabetically. So when the megadie rolls an "L" then you can bet you'll see leprechaun, Lincoln Logs, La Leche League, Latvia, and many more clever vocab on his answer sheet. He just discards every word in his brain that doesn't start with L and figures out the answers lickety split.

So back to Stephen. He is realizing that many words sound alike but are actually different. The other day I overheard him saying slowly, over and over again: "Salsa. Sausage. Sauce." Then today I told him something was "awesome." He looked at me and said, "Office. Awesome." (Say them out loud. They do sound alike.) Then he started laughing hysterically. Now I realize that is not actually funny. But when your 2-year-old thinks it is, then the laughter is contagious. We both had a good laugh over those 2 words this morning.

It's been a rough switch over to daylight savings time. This is the part that is not hilarious. Abby has adapted just fine, but Stephen's still on the old schedule. That just means we stay up late and get up early. And what it also has meant is that Stephen hasn't been getting nearly enough sleep and has thus been pretty difficult at times. It would suffice to say that I've been learning I need to have more patience.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Abby got her first doll today! It's a bitty baby from the American Girl company. My mom gave it to her and I was excited when it showed up on the front porch. So far she has enjoyed exploring its face.

I was also excited about the treasure we found while walking home from a friends' house this morning.

We are responsible for our own lawn care, but have no shed or garage for keeping a lawnmower. So even though it's fairly simple to track down a free or cheap push mower, we couldn't get one because we'd need to keep it in the basement. We've been looking without success for a used reel mower. They're over $100 new and we're probably only going to be here 1 or 2 years.

So you can imagine my surprise and excitement when we were walking home and I saw one for free by the side of the road.

The only problem was that I wasn't exactly close to home and I was also pushing a double stroller.

So (silly-looking) we went charging the rest of the way home. Pushing the stroller with one hand and pulling the new mower with the other.

The stay-at-home dads I met on the way told me it was a good mower and that it was a good find. (Though, come to think of it, neither of them offered to help me get home. Not everyone is like my husband and my dad.)

We're looking forward to a visit from Grandma and Grandpa Leatherman later today.

Go Hawkeyes!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Haircut and cameratime

We gave Stephen a haircut tonight. I also let him take his first picture.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Simplifying Ideas from Two Years of Parenting

Recently I've been reading some (emphasis on the "some" because I don't really have much time!) blogs I've run across to get ideas and see what some others are learning on their journeys. One of the more informative, down-to-earth, and encouraging ones I've run across is Keeper of the Home. On Saturdays, she invites others to post entries on their blogs about how they are simplifying their lives via something called Living Simple Saturdays, so I'm giving it a shot. I have definitely learned some things in these last 2 years and imagine if you ask me in 10 that I'll have an arsenal of many more!

1. A binder with essential information I posted about the Brain-in-a-Binder awhile ago, and I've adapted it to suit me. It just doesn't work for me to put everything in there, but what I have used it for has been great. It contains our commonly-used recipes, birthdays, and phone numbers.

2. Kids' clothes in the main living area We stumbled upon this one accidentally. We live in a small house, about the size of a 3-bedroom apartment. When moving in, we found that my big dresser wouldn't fit upstairs where 2 of the bedrooms are (the 2 we use as bedrooms), so into the dining room it went. I love it! Diapers and changes of clothes for 6-month-old Abby and 2-year-old Stephen right at my fingertips.

3. Trading meals with another family I'm sad to say this isn't happening right now but I'm always open if the right situation opens up! All of last year - right up until Abby was born in April - we cooked 6 nights a week. On Tuesdays, I had the evening off and our friends cooked for us and them. Then on Thursday it was our turn to cook for both families. It worked well because we both had a family of 3, and their son is the same age as ours, so picky-toddler issues were understood by both of us. We set some ground rules. It was okay to say we just couldn't do it if it was going to cause more stress. We only rarely cooked dessert. We decided not to try to "impress" each other and to just cook what we would normally cook.

4. A comfortable baby carrier This was nice to have for Stephen but it is essential with Abby. I do dishes, grocery shop, cook, and walk, all with my baby snuggled right up next to me. She still usually is on the front but I've recently started putting her on my back and that makes things even easier. I'll just link to Sue's post on this because she covered the bases.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Happy 'Birthday' Abby

Abby is 6 months old today!

What a joy it's been to see her first tooth appear a few weeks back, to coach her as she sits up for increasingly long periods of time, and to keep her from danger as she more accurately swipes at the objects of her affections.

She has been such a delightful child who hardly ever cries and sleeps well at night. She has begun some pretty cute babbling and seems to also enjoy playing with her lips, contorting them in any way she can.

She loves her brother and their interaction recently has been hilarious. Both Ryan and I stop whatever we're doing just to watch the two of them carry on.

As I type this (one-handed, I might add), she is sleeping on my shoulder. We're waiting for Stephen's Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Soup from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan to cool down and Ryan is limo-driving. I'll be eating the soup, too, but mine is still on the stove :).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Some thoughts, and a Dog Named Ufonff

Sometimes I read something that articulates exactly what I've been thinking, though I couldn't have come up with the words myself. That's how I felt when reading this entry by John Piper today.


I've always heard about black-eyed peas but I don't think I'd ever tried them ... until last night. Wasn't impressed. I just did a standard recipe with onions, garlic, green peppers. Kind of bland for me. So tonight I turned what was left into a cold salad with freshly chopped red onion, apple cider vinegar, and some more salt and pepper. Much better, but I think I still have some looking to do before I find something really yummy. Any ideas?


Tonight Stephen was walking his little plastic dog. He informed us that its name is "[fonf]." OK. Then he proceeded to tell us that the name also starts with the letter "U." So there you go. Stephen's dog named Ufonff, pronounced "fonf."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mr. Opinionated

I'm talking about the one in the front, wearing the orange shirt.

He generally gets upset when I try to take his picture, and starts shaking his head, saying "no no no." But when he notices the camera, and he wants me to take a picture, then it's fine. (Sound familiar, mothers of toddlers, or mothers of former toddlers?)

I was sick again today, but am feeling better, thanks to my wonderful husband who let me get quite a bit of rest and took Stephen out for an errand even though he (Ryan) has a huge project due on Tuesday.

In other news, we bought Abby her first toothbrush tonight. She also ate applesauce and seemed to like it. She seems to be trying to get up on all fours, but she doesn't use both arms and just ends up getting on her side and pivoting, frustrating herself in the process.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The View

Before retiring for the night, I thought I'd share the view I have as I check email, etc.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

How do you explain to a toddler ...

... that the funny tingling sensation he feels in his foot is because his foot "fell asleep" while he was sitting on it and there is nothing mommy or daddy can do about it?

... that in some wooden puzzles the piece fits all the way in and in other puzzles it sticks up a little bit?

... that the very blanket that helped him sleep when he was cold the other night is now keeping him awake as he is trying to go to sleep? And that to be truly "just like daddy" he'd use the blanket in the cold but not when it's hot?

... that mommy's sorry: the spicy sauce on the pizza that burned your mouth was a new one that I'd never used before. Oops.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Home Sick

The sore throat I've had all week finally morphed into a head cold, and it's not much fun! I went ahead and canceled our morning plans so as not to exhaust myself and to keep from infecting our friends at a playdate. Stephen is doing remarkably well not leaving the house. (We always go somewhere in the morning, even if it's just around the block.)

I put Abby's new babylegs on her. They're cute and make diaper changes a little easier. Each one took me about 10 minutes, and that was even with Stephen on the couch trying to "help" me.

I watched The Italian this morning and it was pretty good. There was a little bad language but it was in Russian and therefore subtitled, so I didn't mind that Stephen was in the room with me.

Last night we grilled pork with a marinade I've used twice now. The recipe calls for massive amounts but I just scaled it back. Ryan really likes it, so we may end up stocking it in the fridge for regular use. We also needed to use up some apples but had no butter. I used canola oil and maple syrup and concocted an apple crisp that way. It wasn't really that crispy but Stephen's chants of "more more more" told me it was good.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Day with Abby

Stephen is at grandma and grandpa's, and having a great time there. I am so glad. I thought that today Abby and I'd do some things that we can't do when he's around. So we went to baby story time at the library. Now that he's discovered the train table, he doesn't really want to go listen to stories and sing songs at the library--he can do that at home! She napping now, but soon we'll go to TJMax and then take lunch to Ryan at school. I'm planning on making some baby leg warmers out of women's tube socks and am hoping to find some on sale.

It is raining, so that limits our options a little bit.

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Visit from Auntie Em

We were privileged to have Emily staying with us last night, and then this evening she took Stephen with her up to my parents' house. I'm looking forward to a day and a half with just Abby - should be pretty relaxing! Stephen has been excited to go to grandma and grandpa's, and was only sad for a minute when he realized mommy wasn't going with him!

Thursday, October 02, 2008


I am thankful today. Thankful that the car started when I tried it "just one more time" after calling Ryan this morning and telling him I was going to have to walk home.

I'm thankful because my purse was still outside when I went out to get it after being in the house for 2 hours already.

I'm thankful because the reason I realized it was missing was because Stephen was playing with his toy credit card and asked me if he could put it in my purse.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Overheard in the office

"Stephen, daddy's trying to get some work done, so it's not a good day to try to drive a car on the piano keyboard."
--Ryan Leatherman

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


As promised, here is footage of Abby's first "meal."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Family Photo

Here is a photo someone took of us last night at the Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur. I'll upload to snapfish as well.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Faces of Abby

This is what I get to stare at all day!

I took the photos while standing with Abby on the other side of the glass at the gym class Stephen attended yesterday.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm Glad We Could Illustrate Your Point for You

For some reason in the past week, the kids and I just seem to be in the right place at the right time.

We were at the Urbana Library one morning and Stephen was playing with the train set. A crowd of international folks (older than traditional undergrads) descended on the children's department, led by a tour guide who I assume was a librarian. I don't know all the nationalities involved, but right after the guide showed them all the toy area, the cameras started coming out, snapping photos of Stephen! I can imagine them emailing the pictures home to show how kids play in libraries in the U.S. Of course you'd think kids would read books. And Stephen does read books, but not at the library.

This morning we were heading to the Infant Cognition Lab for Abby to do her work and as we entered through the handicapped door, a crowd of about 20 students (undergrads this time) stepped aside so we could get through. I heard their professor say, "And this is why we need our building to be accessible. As you can see, it's not just handicapped people who use the ramps and elevators." I don't know what sort of class she was teaching, but I'd say the students lucked out today - it was beautiful outside!

Some quick recounts of what we've been up to:
I'm watching a sweet little girl twice a week. Here she is playing with Abby.

Bethany flew to Germany yesterday and should now be getting settled in the guest house in Oldenberg. We dropped her off at the bus station yesterday so she could take the bus to O'Hare. Stephen now thinks she is permanently on a bus, just like he thinks Eric is forever on an airplane.

Some of Stephen's new words: knuckle, quesadilla, crunchy

Abby's first food, eaten a couple nights ago for dinner: avocado. We'll try to post the movie when we get Ryan's computer back.

We enjoyed visiting Evelyn in Peoria last Friday. I was amazed that we were able to occupy Stephen for an hour and a half at a nursing home!

Yes, Abby is clearly teething. Nothing showing yet.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Burnt Beans. Bummer.

We have a lot of black beans soaking in the fridge, and so I'm going to make Brazilian Black Bean Soup for dinner and then hopefully some Black Bean Brownies. I would be skeptical of the brownies, except my friend Sue made some brownies for us with lentils and they were really yummy.

So before Stephen went down for his nap, I put the beans on the stove, just like I'm supposed to, with an inch of water covering them. About halfway through the cooking process, I noticed there wasn't much extra water so I boiled some more and added it. Then just when it was about done, Abby wanted to nurse. So I stirred and then came to the living room to feed her. Only 5 minutes had passed, but they were crucial. I now have a charred blob of black beans sitting on my stove, and now another pot of them cooking. It's alright; I think I can still have dinner ready by about 6.

Yesterday we were treated to free picking in a friend's garden. I got tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, okra, and more. Then last night for dinner I made what I called "Joni's Garden Pizza." It was my homemade crust (easy in the breadmaker), spaghetti sauce, cheese, and then everything I thought would taste good on there! Even okra!

We've been listening to the Sound of Music quite a bit--it started because of the song "Maria" though "Do Re Mi" is now Stephen's favorite--and just this morning we heard him speaking to himself: "Do Sol Mi ..." It's not in tune, but it's a start at least ...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Tales from Pottery Lane

It's always such a treat to visit Don and Laurel in Port Orchard, Washington. Their land and house is so different from what we're used to, living in town. Their driveway is lined with beautiful blackberry bushes. The blackberries we picked are begging us to eat them atop ice cream after the wedding this afternoon. I wished Stephen were with us as we fed the goats and went to collect eggs from the chickens.

After we had a quick visit with them at their house this morning, we walked from the hotel to the farmers' market. Sorry, Urbana, but this one is right on the water! We shopped a few thrift stores since I still didn't have a top to wear for the wedding ... and it's in 2 hours ... is that some sort of record?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Dinner with the bride and groom

Abby and I are in Seattle. It's weird. I have been away from Stephen for 2 nights in a row before, but I've always been in the same state. I know he'll be fine; he's in good hands with Ryan and Susan (Ryan's mom). And Bethany is around, too, since she doesn't go to Germany till next week. I even got to sing Amazing Grace to him tonight (our nightly ritual) over the phone. I just can't help but wonder what's going on in his mind regarding my whereabouts.

But we're having a good time here. The flights were smooth, and several people commented that they didn't even know a baby had been on board. (Thank you, Abby!) We enjoyed Don and Laurel's dinner and time meeting Lynette's family. (Lynette is the one pictured with Abby.)

Tomorrow is the wedding and I don't know what else we'll end up doing. Our hotel, though nothing fancy, is right on Puget Sound and the view is wonderful. I think I'll open up the curtains and read some John Grisham while Abby sleeps.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A Milestone of the Sleeping Variety

I am happy to say, but in no way expect to happen again soon, that both children slept through the night for the first time ever!

(Stephen had been doing so before Abby was born but has lately been back to waking up a couple times just to make sure we're still here.)

Monday, September 01, 2008

What are the odds?

Two years ago our friends the Beards had a baby, Naomi Shalom, on Labor Day.

Today (on Labor Day) they had their second baby, Talitha Charis Helle Beard; this time it was a home birth in Costa Rica. Good job, Mare!

Labor Day Parade

Since we couldn't be in Wisconsin with the family, we were here to enjoy the Urbana parade. Here are some photos from the morning.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Missing Lake Geneva

Though I haven't made it every year since going away to college in 95, I have many fond memories of our annual family reunion in Wisconsin. We were all set to go until yesterday when Stephen was still running a fever in the morning. I admit that I don't mind sparing Abby two long car trips, but I do wish we could be there. Many of the relatives haven't met Abby and now that Stephen knows some of them better I know he would have enjoyed himself, too.

Stephen woke up this morning without a fever and with a good night's rest. Yeah! We're still taking it easy. He hasn't had much food to eat in the past couple days so I'm sure he needs time to get his stamina back.

Bethany and I have watched Charlottes's Web, The Sound of Music, and King Corn in the past couple days. She's also been skyping with Eric quite a bit since he got to Germany a couple days ago.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

It's Pneumonia

Aunt Heidiann has already called to offer her sympathies; she has been the recipient of many a pneumonia diagnosis.

After 48 hours of fever, I took Stephen in to convenient care this morning. They took a chest x-ray and immediately sent him to the ER. There was a chance the dr there was going to want to admit him. I'm thankful that they did not deem it that serious.

So now we're home again, and Stephen is more drugged than he has even been before.

It's a no-go for our Lake Geneva trip this weekend, but I'm sure we can find plenty to do around the house instead, and we can catch up on some much-needed rest!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Not a Master of English Literature

My friend Loretta did this inventory of books read, and while she has read quite a few more than me, I thought it would be fun to do while I have a sick 2-year-old watching Sound of Music and a sleeping baby on my lap. Oh, and Bethany is home sick today, too.

I've missed some of the classics, due mostly to moving in the middle of high school. I read a couple books twice, and others I missed completely. Time to catch up? Maybe on a few.


1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you started but did not finish.
3) Reprint this list in your own blog so we can try and track down these people who’ve read 6 or less and force books upon them.

"THE" List
1. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
2. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
3. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
4. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
5. Life of Pi - Yann Martel—in my “to read” pile
6. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
7. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
8. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
9. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
10. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
11. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
12. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
13. His Dark Materials (trilogy) - Philip Pullman
14. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
15. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
16. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
17. Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
18. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
19. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
20. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
21. Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis
22. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
23. Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
24. Animal Farm - George Orwell
25. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
26. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
27. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
28. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
29. Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
30. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
31. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
32. Complete Works of Shakespeare
33. Ulysses - James Joyce
34. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
35. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
36. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
37. The Bible
38. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
39. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
40. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
41. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
42. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
45. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
46. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
47. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
48. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
49. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
50. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
51. Little Women - Louisa M. Alcott
52. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
53. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
54. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
55. Middlemarch - George Eliot—
56. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
57. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
58. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
59. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
60. Emma - Jane Austen
61. Persuasion - Jane Austen
62. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
63. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
64. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
65. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
66. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
67. Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
68. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
69. Atonement - Ian McEwan
70. Dune - Frank Herbert
71. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
72. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
73. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
74. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
75. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
76. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
77. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
78. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
79. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
80. Bridget Jones’ Diary - Helen Fielding
81. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
82. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
83. Dracula - Bram Stoker
84. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
85. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
86. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
87. Germinal - Emile Zola
88. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
89. Possession - A.S. Byatt
90. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
91. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
92. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
93. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
94. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
95. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
96. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
97. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
98. Watership Down – Richard Adams
99. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
100. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Back to school, already?!?

I'm glad Ryan really likes what he does at school, because otherwise I'd really feel sorry for him - it seems there really never was a break this summer. He had his recital, then a paper to work on, which still isn't 100% finished, partly due to some computer issues he's been having on the laptop. Which is also the reason it's been hard to keep up with the blog. The laptop has to be hooked up to the other monitor. Which is certainly possible, but the monitor is in the room where Eric and Bethany are staying.

That's alright, though. I have plenty to do just keeping up with my two kids! I actually have a pretty calm day right now, as Stephen woke up with a fever and doesn't want to do much. He has been watching PBS a lot, and has at least moved off the couch and onto the floor, where he is driving his trucks and tractors around. So he can't be that sick.

Eric is leaving for Germany today, and then Bethany will be staying with us for a couple weeks while she finishes up her job at the Chemistry Learning Center on campus. It's been a lot of fun having them here. We've shared lots of meal prep as well as doing dishes. But that stubborn Abby; mommy is still the only one who can feed her!

Friday, August 15, 2008

A post by the youngest member of the family

Hi. I'm Abby. Yesterday my mommy and daddy celebrated their 3rd anniversary, so grandma came down from Plainfield to spend time with me and my brother, Stephen (pronounced "Deen"). They never asked me about it, but they thought I'd be fine with grandma all night so mommy got lots of milk ready for me in the fridge.

I like having grandma here. She smiles at me a lot and I say "goo" back and giggle. I put a picture here so you can see how happy I am sometimes. I even laid in the stroller for a little bit while grandma and Stephen and I walked around the block.

But then I got hungry, and I don't like that funny-looking gadget they try to stick in my mouth with milk in it. I like having my mom right there with me to feed me. So I screamed. I screamed really loud hoping that my mommy could hear me wherever she and daddy were. Grandma helped me by calling daddy's phone and letting him hear how sad I was that I couldn't find mommy. So they came home to get me.

Then they just took me to the movie with them. OH BOY! That was the biggest TV I've ever seen! We saw The Dark Knight at the art theatre in downtown Champaign. I started talking a couple times during the movie but I never cried. I was with mommy :).

After we got home -- all 3 of us -- we watched some of the Olympics and cleaned up the house. I finally went to sleep around 11:30. I was so tired from my crazy day yesterday that I slept straight until 9 o'clock this morning!

I also wanted to show a picture of my mommy and daddy. They're really glad that they got married 3 years ago yesterday.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

This House Is Great

This was parked outside our house today.

(It also woke Stephen up early. I heard him saying "tractor" and I knew I needed to get him up so he could look out the window and see it.)

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Update on Stephen

The doctor and nurses last night said that if Stephen was going to have any trouble with the item up his nose, it would start within 24 hours. So far so good; he isn't having any issues and seems to be unharmed by the traumatic ER experience.

We had a busy day clearing out of the old place. Now we are fully out and are setting up house. Ryan's parents are here and so are Bethany and Eric, who plan to stay here off and on while Eric finishes up grad school.

Ryan has been driving the limo and DJing tonight. I'm glad we pulled those clothes aside before we moved as we are nowhere NEAR unpacked yet.

Dwelling amidst the boxes

We moved today. I can't really think to post something clever or well thought-out, nor do I have the time, but I know some family and friends are curious how it's all going. Especially those overseas who wish they could be here to help! (We miss you, Heather and Marc-André!)

We had a scare that the truck we'd reserved wouldn't actually be available, but Ryan showed up this morning at the Budget rental store and since there was one there they let him take it. We loaded and finished packing and taping all day; Ryan and I both forgot about the attic, so there was another load later in the evening that had to be done.

It was all going smooth (though taking some time) when Stephen put a little toy coin up his nose. I couldn't fish it out with my little finger. Grandma Susan looked in it and said it's too far up; he needs to go in to the ER. So there we went, and the first two methods of getting-objects-out-of-tiny-noses didn't work. They ended up putting a tube in his nose and hoping that he'd swallow the coin and send it through his body that way. We hope it isn't just lodged in further, in which case he'll start having some respiratory problems. And then it's to an ENT we go.

It was really hard on him. Even though all the nurses and the doctor were so kind and patient with him, he was crying during a lot of the attempts. He was also tired. He calms down when I sing to him so I was going through some of the hymns that I know. This one in particular struck me, from Great Is Thy Faithfulness: Pardon for sin, and a peace that endureth; Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide; Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside.

He and Abby are now both sleeping upstairs in our new house, so peacefully. Thank you, Jesus!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Abby's First Day of Work

(The photo is not from her job. It's from our trip to Des Moines, where she napped while John was watching TV.)

Abby has a job. Ryan likes to say she makes $20 an hour, but only works for 15 minutes. She participates in a test at the Infant Cognition Lab at the University of Illinois. She seemed to do just fine watching a turtle and elephant in a little show they did for her this morning.

We're back from vacation. The drive back to Champaign yesterday was a little rocky from Galesburg to Champaign, but we were glad to see Heidi here when we got to our house.

It was so fun to see some of our friends and family in Des Moines! There is never enough time to see everyone we want. This time we made sure to see Adelaide Tims, Kindle Drost, and Nick and Xander Snodgrass.