Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 A to Z

What a year 2009 has been! We ushered it in from a hotel room in Bloomington, IL, where Ryan was performing at a New Year’s Eve party. That was before Ryan was even offered the job in San Antonio. And now we’re polishing it off with a gig in San Antonio.

Both Stephen (3.5) and Abby (1.5), in their age-appropriate ways, LOVE the English alphabet. Their favorite form of reciting and hearing it is Dr. Seuss’s ABC book, though they love many other forms. So we thought it was fitting to give you a rundown of our 2009 year, A-B-C style. It's completely out of order chronologically.

We settled for the most obvious choice for A: the United States Air Force. Ryan was offered a position in the Band of the West that’s stationed at Lackland AFB in San Antonio. We packed up in Urbana, IL, this summer and drove the 17 hours southwest to our new city. We settled into our temporary housing in the midst of a streak of 42 days where temperatures reached over 100 degrees.

From a chance encounter with another mother at a park, I learned that Thomas the Tank Engine was coming to Texas! We knew Stephen would love the chance to ride on Thomas, so we bought tickets for him and Ryan to take the 20-minute ride in Burnet, TX, pulled by the Thomas engine. The rain could have ruined it for us, but Stephen took it all in stride and grinned from ear to ear as he stepped aboard. Also in this excursion: a meet-and-greet with Sir Topham Hatt.

We know there is a lot of stigma associated with “meeting people on the internet,” but we are so glad we did! A few times this past year, we typed “San Antonio house church” into a search engine, found an old post on, and that’s how we’ve met many of our new friends, including a group of people that we’ve begun to meet with regularly.

Drip drop 110. We don’t know what it means either. Ask Stephen.

Evelyn Blane was a close friend of our family’s, from our days in Peoria, IL. She had been battling cancer for over a year, and this July we said goodbye to her. We’re thankful that the kids and Lisa had been able to see her in June when we were on our way to Iowa. We also said goodbye to Lisa’s Great-Aunt Gerda this spring.

For the first time since October of 2005, Lisa is neither pregnant nor nursing. We took advantage of this time to spend an extended period of time together, leaving both children with Lisa’s parents. We stayed in both downtown San Antonio and Port Aransas, dining in a variety of restaurants that ran the gamut from McDonald’s to The Chart House in the Tower of the Americas. One of the more special establishments was Fossati’s in Victoria, Texas, heralded as the oldest deli in Texas, and still owned by the original family.

With home ownership (more on that later) comes home improvement projects, and Ryan is determined to tackle as many of them on our own as we can. One of the more challenging ones was a Genie garage door opener that he and our friend Adam installed one day in September. We’re thankful for friends like Adam and Brian, who fastened many a bolt on the shed we put outside our back door. (They don’t seem to mind the meals Lisa cooks for them while they’re over here working.)

A project that was out of our control was the disconnect box on the furnace. When the temperatures started dropping, we turned on the heat, and discovered that it only worked for a few minutes. (It had been tested during the inspection, but this was not caught.) An HVAC specialist, an electrician, and a chilly night later, we had a working furnace again.

When we first moved to San Antonio, we lived in temporary housing for a month. This meant hours and hours of time for Lisa to occupy the 2 kids in a) a small hotel suite and b) the 100-degree heat. We did a little of both. Stephen took note of the many trainees walking around and shouting “1-2-3-4” as they marched. They must have been a little inarticulate, because what he heard and repeated with all the strength he could muster, while marching himself, was this: “I-O-I-O.” He did this in the most choice locations: the middle of the commissary aisle – the sidewalk in front of the fitness facility. At least he’s only 3.

Long before we took the kids and Lisa’s parents and sister to Sea World for the first time, Stephen had been enamored with the roller coasters. He saw them from a distance and thought they were the neatest trains he had ever seen. He wanted to go on them. And lucky for him (and us), they do have a kiddie coaster, Shamu Express. Which he went on. Five times. But that didn’t satisfy him. He wanted to go on a way-up-higher roller coaster. Because he is so tall for a 3-year-old, he just cleared the height requirement for a combination water ride/roller coaster, the Journey to Atlantis. We both went on it with him, putting him between us, and hoping that he wouldn’t be too terrorized. He handled it extremely well, not crying at all after the drop was over. But this was how we knew it had pushed his limits: He refused to go on it again.

We did it. We bought a house. And all the lovely benefits and drawbacks that go along with it. We’re enjoying our ranch-style home on the corner of Kinderhook and St. Lawrence St. in San Antonio.

One of our criteria for a home to buy was that it was free of lead-based paint. We learned the hard way that a little girl doesn’t have to chew on windowsills to have lead poisoning. Our sweet 10-month-old Abby was found to have a level of 15 micrograms per deciliter. (A safe level is 0, but under 3 isn’t considered cause for alarm. Levels in the 20s can cause permanent brain damage.) We’re thankful that it was discovered when it was, and we wiped down the offending areas of the home and our landlords (who hadn’t disclosed the paint and could be in big trouble if we decided to sue) took care of the chipping paint, making it possible for us to finish up our year’s lease before leaving at the end of July. (Two months later Abby's level was way down. Yay!)

Stephen is growing up, and with that comes special events, such as his first movie in the theater. Ryan took him to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and said he was transfixed the entire time. Now he regularly asks me to read him the story since we have it as a picture book.

New Years’ Eve. The usual. Ryan is playing a gig and Lisa is home with the kids. But home beats a hotel room, curled up in the bathroom so as not to wake the kids.

Since before we were even dating, Lisa drove a champagne-colored Oldsmobile, which was inherited from her Grandma Doris. It was the only car Stephen had really known us to have, and to this day, he calls it “Our Car,” (please note the capital O and C). How ironic, then, that the day it chose to die on us was his third birthday. Ryan was away at basic training with literally no way to be reached. Lisa had to write him a letter, which he received over a week later. We were more than thankful for a car to borrow for the rest of the time that we were in the Midwest. Thanks, Great Grandma Fay! Since we’ve been in Texas, we’ve purchased two vehicles: a Nissan Sentra and a Dodge Grand Caravan. Neither one would win a drag race, but they get us from point A to point B, and in a big city in a big state, that’s rather important.

Stephen really understood his birthday this year, and we wanted to have some fun parties for him. But what we did not understand was the logic behind his somewhat strange requests. When we celebrated with Lisa’s side of the family, we asked him what kind of cake he wanted. “Blue cake,” was his only response, and he was consistent. We tried offering different kinds of cakes, but he just wanted a blue cake. Grandma Lindstrom came through and he was thrilled. Then it was on to the Leatherman side of the family, only this time the request was also specific, “Green cake.” And that’s exactly what he got, frosting and inside included (thanks Aunt Care). By the way, he highly recommends birthday parties to everyone.

Near our house is a duck pond and playground that we frequent. And one of Abby’s first animal sounds was “quack quack.” I still don’t think I’ve ever heard her actually say “duck.” She just speaks their language.

You might believe that recycling is a good aspiration. But our worlds were turned upside down this summer when Ryan endured the Air Force Basic Military Training Program. For 8 weeks, we both feared the worst: that he would be recycled—that’s the term they use—and have to spend another week or more stuck in training. We were both very relieved when he graduated on time and our move proceeded without any major hitches.

We all got a special treat in early December when Susan, Ryan’s mom, came down for almost 2 weeks to spend time with all of us. An 8-day trip turned into 11 when the blizzard in Des Moines made travel practically impossible. I don’t think any of us minded having her here a little extra time, and the memories made going to Sea World, riding the miniature train, and reading book after book after book will last for a lifetime.

Lisa wasn’t the only ‘Lorimor’ girl who moved this summer. Emily moved into a beautiful historic home in Temple, TX, making the drive to see her at right about 3 hours. Heather and Marc-Andre crossed back over the Atlantic and now live on New York’s Long Island. Heidi stayed put at Bucknell in Pennsylvania, but Anthony finished up at Princeton and moved to Penn State, making their 2 jobs only about an hour apart. Ryan’s brother John is a junior at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. We look forward to seeing everyone in our families this summer. That’s the plan, anyway!

It was probably more fun for Lisa than it was for Abby, but she seemed to enjoy it, too. We enrolled her in a kiddie swim class at Urbana’s Indoor Pool. She became comfortable with getting her head wet and enjoyed some one-on-one time with mommy.

Maybe somebody filled me in on how life would change with kids and I wasn’t listening. I no longer watch the TV I’m interested in (which is fine) or listen to the music that I would choose. We tool around town listening mostly to a Bible Verses A to Z CD. It’s Stephen’s top pick, though we also rotate a B-I-N-G-O CD and Down by the Bay.

After settling in to our house and knowing that our trip at the end of December was imminent, Lisa set out to wean Abby. It was challenging but we made it. She’s increasing daily the number of foods and amount of it that she is willing to consume. All by herself with a spoon and fork, nonetheless. (We’re still working on that with Stephen.)

In the spring, Ryan fell off his bike, spraining his wrist. We were thankful that he didn’t break it and that it didn’t affect his eligibility to ship out for basic training in May. Abby felt the need to follow suit and fell on a single stair at a friend’s house in November. We hoped that it was just a simple twist, but the x-ray the following morning revealed a break in her first metatarsal (bone extending from ankle to big toe). She hobbled around in a cast for 3 weeks and at her check-up it had healed perfectly!

Our friend Yvette treated Lisa to an afternoon at Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Many roller coaster rides were taken and a fun afternoon is always appreciated by a mom-of-toddlers.

Stephen’s music class has been the highlight of his fall. He and seven other three-year-old boys and girls, including one of his favorite people, Zane, dance, sing, and learn a bit while having a ton of fun.

Don’t expect another A to Z list in 2010. I’m sure the kids will be into something entirely different.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tourists in Our Own Backyard

While Susan was here, we were San Antonio tourists a little more than we normally are. We walked on the Riverwalk and enjoyed lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Stephen and Susan rode the zoo train while Abby and I stayed behind. (She'd get bored real quick and want to get off.)

Stephen showed Susan around Seaworld. They rode the roller coaster, saw Shamu, and greeted dolphins and horses. They also got to watch a Sesame Street production that we refer to at our house as "The Elmo Show." It was actually really cold that day, but we went anyway because it was our only chance. Abby went for the first couple of hours and rode the teacup ride once in the same cup as mommy.

Abby's New Kitchen

Aunt Heather gave Abby a toy kitchen, which she loves playing with. Here are some pictures. Some activities we've shown her directly, but many she just imitates from watching me in the kitchen! Stephen loves it too, but we have to make sure he doesn't take over and push her out of the way.

Thanks, Heather!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Grandma Susan's Visit

We bought Ryan's mom's tickets to come down to Texas a couple months ago and the day she was scheduled to leave was the day that Des Moines was practically shut down due to the blizzard. So she extended her trip and now is staying until Saturday! It's been so great for me to have adult company during the day and help with the kids. They love love love playing with grandma, and she really enjoys it, too.

I will have quite a few posts coming up to cover the various activities we've done, so you can look forward to:
  • Abby's new kitchen
  • Stephen's music class
  • the miniature train ride
  • Seaworld
  • The Riverwalk
  • Cooking with pears
For now, here are some fun photos we have shot over the past week.

Abby, right before we went to the hospital to get her cast removed.

Ryan just had to take this photo of the great San Antonio blizzard of 2009.

Giving Stephen a hair cut. Normally daddy does this.

Susan wanted to get a family photo. Guess which half of the family wanted to cooperate!

A new poster Stephen got from grandma. He asked if he could have it on his door.

Ryan is still in Georgia where he is filling in for an empty seat in another AF band. We miss him, but it's only a 3-day trip, so it's not too bad. Though as soon as he gets back, he is tied up with the local concerts. I'm going on Monday and can hardly wait!

And she walks!

Without a giant pink cast on her foot, that is.

She's still limping a bit, trying to get used to her foot again. But the doc looked at today's x-ray and said she looks great!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tweeting Stephen

I have pondered starting a twitter feed for the funny and odd things that Stephen says. Many times in a day I laugh at something odd he says, and he isn't even intending to be funny. I think it's typical of a 3-year-old, and it cracks us up.

Today as we were heading to HEB, he was holding my hand in the parking lot and he said, "Uh-oh, Mama, I hear something." (The problem would be if he didn't hear anything.)

Then afterward we were sitting in the car, waiting to get onto Potranco, when he said "Mama, that B is broken! And then it made a star!" I didn't see what he was looking at right away, but when I did, I knew exactly what he meant. Check out the logo for this bank.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fun Run!

Check out that boot on her right foot!

Even with Abby's unfortunate fall and 1st metatarsal fracture the other day, we headed over to the base to participate in the youth center's Turkey Trot. I strapped Abby to my back and Stephen took off running. He ran for just over one lap and then walked the rest of the way. He and Ryan are in lap #5 in the photo below.

I let her try running at the very end. It didn't last very long.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Stephen's Giving a Music Lesson

A whole 2 weeks since I've written something? I must have been busy getting our family update put together. Comment or send me an email if you didn't get the pdf file but would like it.

Tonight at dinner, Stephen taught us a little bit about what he's been learning.

(Abby is reading a tractor book in the background.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Tidbits, Photo-Style

I'm recovering from my nasty stomach bug yesterday (thanks, Abby) and am resting on the couch while the kids watch "letter movie."

I was scanning through my phone camera and thought some photos could capture small goings-on from the recent weeks.

Stephen taking a duck for a walk ... I'm guessing this belonged to my dad. It showed up in our garage somehow.

Abby trying her hand at juggling. While Stephen and Ryan were riding on Thomas, we went to some of the exhibits. A unicyclist was taking a break from riding and juggling, and he let Abby play with the bowling pins.

One morning our mailbox was tipped over like this. When Ryan replaced the box, he hadn't replaced the pole attaching it to the ground, and we knew it was on it's last leg. In fact, we found it had been held up by an old broomstick!! Now it's securely propped up with a solid pipe from Stephen and Ryan's favorite outing destination: Home Depot.

When we go to Central Market (a fancy grocery store near downtown), Stephen gets some good laughs from this "Magic Pop" machine. The machine pops out a light disk similar to a rice cake every few seconds.

Last Sunday our friend Yvette took me to Fiesta Texas for the day. It was such a nice break from the daily routines of diapers and kids' demands ... we rode almost every roller coaster as well as the swings, the ferris wheels and the bumper cars. I hope to be able to take Stephen soon. The height requirement for many rides is 42" and he is just there. He'd love being a passenger in the bumper cars.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Move Over, Emily Elizabeth

Clifford has a new best friend.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sitting Around Eating Bon-Bons

No, really. I am.

This morning we were at the grocery store, and while standing in line, Stephen developed an aversion to the man standing in line behind us. He started telling me not to let that man look at him, to which I replied that if he didn't want that man to see him, he shouldn't look back.

Of course he did, time and time again, and I grew more and more embarrassed as he kept saying, "No he see Stephen!" Thankfully, the man was good-natured about it and knew that I was doing the best I could to keep the kids under control.

So finally we finished our checkout and started walking out of the store. Apparently, Stephen had charmed the man so much that the man bought him some candy and ran after us to give it to him.

Of course I let Stephen have some of it, but I wouldn't want him eating a whole bag of candy corn, so I need to eat some of it myself.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Oh the joys of a Wednesday

Minus the fun-went-wrong trip to a park in town this morning, I would say Stephen had a mighty fine day.

We set out to a park that had walking trails that the website said were paved. But my definition of paved and their definition of paved did not agree. Pushing a double stroller that isn't meant for off-roading just didn't go very well. Stephen was pretty disappointed when I said we just needed to go back to the car and find another place to go. Maybe if I'd brought my carrier for Abby we could have just hiked for awhile, but I hadn't.

We stopped quickly in Hobby Lobby where Stephen bought some Thomas stickers all by himself, then we headed to the grocery store. He had won an "instant winner" sticker in the HEBuddy machine and I hoped this store would have the prizes (unlike the one by our house) so he could redeem it. Indeed they did! The CS guy showed him his options, and he picked out a beach ball. I blew it up for him and he's been quite pleased with his prize.

After a quick lunch at home, we headed up to music class. He gets so excited, and I hear from his teacher that he's very cooperative. (Well, good for her. Perhaps she can potty train him then ...)

While the kids were both resting, I read in my friend's blog that I had won a contest that she hosted last week. Thanks! I hope the kids enjoy the DVD we won.

Ryan will be playing at Oak Hills this weekend with a brass band. It'll be his first local gig--playing saxophone and not tuba, that is.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

How Time Feels

As of yesterday, Ryan had been done with basic training for as long as he had been in it. And let me tell you -- the past 2 months have gone by SO MUCH FASTER! Not that they were without their inconveniences. Living at TLF was BORING at times, and the packing/unpacking was far from being a breeze.

I like having my husband home for dinner every night. I don't mind all the extra laundry and dirty dishes. The kids love climbing on him and being plain old silly. Though Stephen still tells me every couple of days that he misses daddy.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Abby Eats an Oreo

Abby tried an oreo for the first time last night, and Emily thought a certain brother-in-law would want to see the footage. I'm sharing it with the rest of the world, too ...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bragging on my husband

I think we can officially call him "Mr. Fix-It."

Now when we first moved in, he did some standard projects: changing the locks, hooking up the washer and dryer, and even fixing some faulty electrical outlets.

But now he's tackled some pretty intense projects.

First there was the drip in the shower. It was through that dilemma that we discovered that in San Antonio you can't turn your water off inside the house. There's a shut-off by the street that requires a special wrench. Once the water was off, he went to work disassembling the shower. That was enough to impress me, but he got to a part that wouldn't come off the way that it should. The Home Depot expert's advice? Figure out a way to get it off. Which Ryan then did--with sheer strength (thanks to basic training? ha ha). And then it was just a part or two later and our shower was in working order again.

Then there was the mailbox. Should be simple enough. Except the nuts and bolts were so rusted through that no traditional tool was going to get them off. Out came the steel chisel, and he stabbed at the rusted box for hours one evening. When he came in that night, I didn't even want to ask, but I did: Did you get the new mailbox on? "Yes," he replied. Phew.

And then the garage door. It was a manual one, which required quite a bit of manpower to open, and got stuck frequently. After looking around and reading, Ryan decided this was a project he could handle. After getting the garage door guys out last night to balance it (not a project for the do-it-yourselfer), he was ready. Today he and our friend Adam spent the day sweating in the garage and now we have a working garage door: It operates with a button! Many of you take this for granted!

See for yourself:

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Music Class!

Stephen had his first music class today. He was SO EXCITED that he didn't even want to eat lunch ... which made me nervous since the class was from 12:15 - 1:15. But he did fine. The teacher said he did great, and he seemed very excited on the ride home as well. Abby wasn't too happy that she couldn't stay. The keyboards and other instruments beckoned her to play. But we had a fun time exploring a new grocery store together. (Think lots of samples!!)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Bye-Bye Bigger Blue Drink

It's the closest thing Stephen has to a pacifier or a blankie.

But it was nasty and beyond washable, even with a dishwasher. And the straw was chewed almost to oblivion.

It was time. We had prepped him all weekend and he knew it was happening. So after our free chicken sandwiches from Chick-Fil-A, we drove to the mall and threw it in a trash can outside. He had no problem doing it at all, and then proceeded as if I'd just asked him to throw away a carrot peel for me.

Then we went to the Disney Store and let him pick out a new cup with a straw. This one should be easier to clean!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Toy Storage

This entry is mostly for my friends in Urbana to whom I posed the question: How do you store your kids' toys?

But I thought a few others would be interested in seeing part of our kitchen.

My parents found this Trofast component at Ikea the other day and picked it up for us. (For our anniversary they wanted to get us something for our house, and this was at the top of my list -- well, it was until our dryer broke, but that's a story for another day.)

Since we have a kitchen eating area as well as a dining room, I decided to make the eating area a play area so the kids could be right there while I'm working in the kitchen. It's about the only hard floor in the house, and Stephen needs it to be able to drive his trucks efficiently.

But lest you think these are the only toys we have, that's not the case. Stephen has quite a few in his room, which he has been enjoying immensely.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Bright Side

Apparently the title company our seller's realtor chose doesn't find it necessary to actually complete a home closing on the day that the signing begins ... so we wait. Our realtor was livid after the meeting. Yesterday was supposed to be the very latest that we got into the house. He as well as another realtor in his office and our mortgage loan officer are going to do everything in their power today to get some keys in our hands. In the meantime, the kids and I are hanging at the hotel, and Ryan decided to go to work. But ...

1. At least it's not basic training!!!
2. We can enjoy cable TV for a few more days
3. Being on base is convenient when we have only one car
4. Stephen loves sleeping on the pull-out bed
5. If we move on Saturday we can do it in the morning, making the heat more tolerable
6. A few more days of someone else making our bed and giving us clean towels
7. We still live near dozens of airplanes and busses
8. Abby wouldn't care if we lived in a tent or a castle ... "mama mama" is all she needs ...
9. Donuts for breakfast since we've eaten all the breakfast food we have in the last couple of days
10. At least nothing fell through, like the loan or the roof on the house :)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Amusing Ourselves

What do you do with time in a new city before you've met many people? Well, you could go sit on an elephant.

Or you could sit on a couch and make funny faces.

Or you could sit on your parents' bed and play with crayons.

Monday, August 10, 2009

10 Glimpses Into Our Lives

Our suite here at Temporary Lodging. The bed is Stephen's hide-a-bed which was out for his afternoon rest time. You can see Abby's bed in the corner behind the chairs. The bathroom and bedroom are to the right off the kitchen.

  1. Leaving to run an errand at 4:58 p.m. while living on base proves to be a bad idea. All traffic comes to a halt while Revelry and The Star-Spangled Banner play over the loudspeaker at 5. On a positive note, Stephen loves hearing it and we have been going out on the balcony every day as soon as he hears it!
  2. When I work out, it's called "exercise." When Ryan does, it's called "PT." There are several fitness facilities on base. On Saturday morning, I went to one while Ryan stayed at our room with the kids. What a shock it was to walk out of the weight room and see the gym lined with M-16s! There were about 50 Marines in there doing some sort of group activity.
  3. When we first got here, everything seemed so BROWN. But I think I've gotten used to it. The grass ... the buildings ... even the couch and bedspread are brown ... the brightest colors are the beautiful peppers! There's a water restriction in San Antonio and I found out yesterday that we get to water our lawn in our new house on Wednesdays.
  4. Thank goodness for a DVD player. Stephen watches Sound of Music almost every day, and knows some of the lines and songs by heart. Never mind that he thinks the captain sings "Eggo Bite." At least it amuses him.
  5. On Saturday, both kids took late naps, so we knew bedtime wouldn't be at 8 like normal. I surfed the local online calendars, and we found a free movie in a park near downtown. It was fun to go there, lay a blanket on the lawn, an watch the first half hour of Night at the Museum with the kids. There was also popcorn and a "mist tent" that the kids LOVED.
  6. Stephen tells me everyday, "Abby likes trucks. And I like cars. And buses. And little buses. Especially that bus ..." (pointing to the blood donor bus across the street from our room) At the blood donor building, there are signs outside for donors to line up according to blood type. I love it ... some things are really efficient around here. Other things, not so much.
  7. I'm slowing learning Spanish. Last night while looking through Sunday's coupons, I learned that it's good to Ahorre when buying groceries!
  8. You'd think it would be easy to find some of the grocery options that I had in little Urbana, IL. But it's not. I have been searching aisles for a bulk spice display like they have at the coop and at Strawberry Fields (both within walking distance from our house in Urbana). Finally, I found Sun Harvest today, but it's at least 20 minutes driving from our house. It'll be a special occasion store, I suppose.
  9. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to live near so many airplanes. Every time we drive by the graduation grounds (across the street from our living quarters), Stephen shouts out "look at that airplane" for each one we pass. And I know he's looking at each one of them because sometimes it varies: "ooh, look at that little airplane!"
  10. Abby has become quite a helper around the house. Her new favorite thing to do is to throw things in the garbage. Diapers (no way we're doing cloth right now!), wrappers ... anything I ask her to take there ... she'll march right over, open the can, put her loot in there, close it, then walk back across the room grinning from ear to ear and clapping to congratulate herself. Right now I'm going to march both of my little helpers down the balcony to the laundry room to put clothes in the dryer ...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Wisdom of a Three-Year-Old

Stephen has been making some rather mature-sounding comments recently. I don't think it reflects his actual maturity; I think he is simply imitating us.

Before we left Urbana, we had some friends over to say goodbye. The house got rather loud and busy at one point, and Susan (my mother-in-law) was going upstairs to wash some windows for us. Stephen said he wanted to go with her, and he even wanted a rag so that HE could help with the cleaning. When they got up there, he said to her, "it sure is noisy down there." As if he doesn't ever run around screeching himself ...

Then today we were coming back to our suite at the Temporary Lodging here at Lackland. I have been keeping it pretty well picked up out of necessity (gotta wash your plates when you only have 4 and the toys need to be put away every night so the hide-a-bed can be set up in the living room), but there is some clutter because we have nowhere else to put everything! Just before getting to our room, he noticed that the cleaning lady was fixing up the vacated room next door. So he invited himself in and told her, "It's clean in here. I want to stay here." And he plopped down on a chair and sipped from his ubiquitous blue cup.

Last night, he got upset with me when I gave Ryan a hug. He's always been somewhat possessive of me (Stephen, that is), but I think with the transitions and the busy summer his attachment has increased. So we tried to explain to him that it was good for mommy and daddy to hug. He still didn't want me to, though. I said, "Can I hug Abby?" "No," was his reply. "Can I hug you?" Still, "no."

"Then who can mommy hug?" I said.

"The wall," said Stephen. "Mommy hug the wall." Where does he get this stuff?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Texas, Here We Are

Much to share since I last posted ...

First and foremost, we now live in Texas!

Ryan finished Air Force Basic Military Training on July 24. We put an offer on a house on July 27, then flew back to Illinois to pack up our house for the big move. We packed the moving truck on the 30th (Ryan's 29th birthday) and then drove. Ryan and my dad in the Penske. My mom and I were in the minivan with the kids. We filled 2 storage units (1 regular and 1 climate-controlled for instruments) and are now living in temporary housing at Lackland Air Force Base. It's not anything to get too excited about, but we do have an equipped kitchen, DVD players, maid service, and FREE laundry. The offer on our house was accepted and assuming the inspection doesn't bring up major problems, we'll close by August 26 and be in before September.

We didn't stop in the same places during the drive so this photo is just of me and the kids. At this particular stop, Stephen found some sprinklers to run in. And rather than get upset with him for having a great time doing so, I just let him and then changed his clothes -- put him right back in his dirty but DRY clothes from the day before.

Ryan has some things to do this morning and has the car, so the kids and I were on our own. We went out in the morning, but it's already 84 and sunny. My intention was for Stephen to walk and Abby to be in the stroller. But Stephen got tired. Good thing I had the baby carrier, too. So Abby went on my back and Stephen went in the stroller. We got to the convenience store, but NOTHING on my list was there. I should have put wine, beer, and liquor on my list. There was plenty of that. But no bread, tortilla shells, grape juice, or a carrot peeler. So we walked back, and before we got to our housing, a car stopped and asked if they could give us a ride. I didn't think I looked that exhausted, but apparently I did ... or maybe folks driving through think that only trainees should have large packs on their backs. We were fine, but I might go to the storage unit and swap the single stroller for the double. It's bulkier, but I don't think Stephen's going to be making it on very long walks in this heat. Even with bigger blue drink :).

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Sense of Entitlement

Just a few minutes ago, Stephen came into the kitchen crying. "Where's our garage?" he said.

I repeated back to him: "Our garage?"

"Yes," he said.

"Stephen, we don't have a garage."

The look of sorrow on his face was truly devastating.

I guess being at grandma and grandpa's house got him used to the fact that houses have garages. And our Little People toy house has a garage.

I guess we have a lot of work to do to help him understand what a "need" is.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Of Trucks, Somersaults, and Bathtime

Stephen continues to crack us up with his drama and out-of-the-blue statements.

Today we were walking down a sidewalk and there was a truck blocking the sidewalk because it wasn't pulled up far enough in a driveway. Stephen said to me, "How are we EVER going to get around that truck?" (I showed him and we continued on our walk without a hitch.)

Then after his nap he wanted to do some somersaults. He just started doing them a week or so ago and he inevitably uses them as a stalling technique when he doesn't want to do something else. "I need do somersault," he tells me.

But then he asked me, "Does Great Grandma do somersaults?"

We still haven't gotten an answer.

Last week dad got Stephen to a pretty good point where he was enjoying taking baths again. But a couple days ago when I gave him one, he still didn't want me pouring the water over his head. (I've tried having him tilt his head back, holding a washcloth over his eyes, etc.) But then later in his bath he took a little toy cup and poured water on his own head.

So tonight I got smart. I shampooed his hair and then let him play for awhile. Then I said, "why don't you pour water on your head?" And he proceeded to fill up his little toy teacup and lift it up to drip down the side of his head. And behind him, I had a plastic cup full of water that I brought up from behind and gushed on him. He didn't mind at all because he thought he was doing it himself!

Monday, June 08, 2009

My Daughter's Quirks

One of Abby's many funny practices is that she likes to eat food while carrying it around. And she wants to have the whole piece. For certain foods that is a problem, because we can't give her food she could choke on. But there are many things that aren't a problem.

For instance, this morning she was vehemently rejecting the bits of banana that we were giving her but still reaching for the peel itself. I let her have it, and she proceeded to walk around with it proudly, sucking occasionally on the top of the fruit.

Well, Stephen wanted a bite and she was happy to oblige!

This evening during dinner, she didn't want peas or raisins. And she didn't want the little pieces of mom's good Jarlsberg cheese. She wanted the big hunk of it, "to go," please.

I know I could just refuse to let her eat this way, but really it just backfires on me when she is extra-hungry at night and wakes repeatedly.

Before I had Abby, I didn't know why parts of toys ended up all over people's houses. Stephen pretty much plays with toys where he finds them. But as I type this, she is bringing me a windmill from a train set in the other room. Thanks, kiddo.

Monday, June 01, 2009

What have we done?

Stephen is giving Abby a haircut with a fork.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Strange Ideas Out of the Mouths of Toddlers

It used to be that we had fun listening to Stephen mispronounce words. And while he still gets some words wrong, he really does enunciate pretty well. Now he comes up with funny combinations and phrases, such as "Grandma Stephen."

Here are some gems from today. I really, truly do not know where he gets this stuff.

"Drip drop 110"

"Stephen eats daddy's knee!" (said at the dinner table, when he was supposed to be eating shepherd's pie)

"nomeeneemyneeosidodiaheeabby" (his fun name for abby, which he says exactly the same way every time)


I just went through his clothes and he has plenty of 3T and 4T summer clothes. He's going to be excited about all the trucks and animals on his t-shirts, especially the lobster one. We go say hi to them every time we are at the grocery store.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Saxophone Party

After classes and juries were over, the classical saxophone professor invited her studio over to her house for an outdoor lunch/dinner (middle of the afternoon).

Before we left, we told Stephen we were going to a party. He said, "birthday!" But we said it was a saxophone party, not a birthday party. He didn't fight it at all, but happily got in the burley and we all biked over there (not a short ride; they're on the other side of town).

We enjoyed the party, especially the swing and slide they had in their backyard. And we went out in the paddleboat.

Then at one point Stephen was standing around the food table, enjoying the chips and crackers, and he suddenly exclaimed, "Happy birthday, Saxophone!" (I guess he didn't "get it" after all.)

The picture from the bike trailer is after BOTH of them had slept on the way home. Stephen woke up as soon as we stopped biking but Abby was a little more sleepy.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Poor Baby

So we just got back from a long trip today and Abby has been having the toughest time going to sleep. We tried the usual ... letting her eat more, gas drops, rubbing her tummy ... and I was racking my brain trying to figure out what I would have eaten that is upsetting her so much. Ryan suggested that her body is sore from so much time in the carseat. Likely. But it hasn't bothered her other times. So why tonight?

I felt in her mouth to the place where her 8th tooth is supposed to be coming in any day ... she's had 7 teeth for about 3 months. And then I reached back a little further. A tooth is poking through. I reached back on the other side. Another one. Upon further investigation ... yep ... both are molars.


We treated her and she immediately calmed down. Did I go the "natural" or "medical" route? You, my dear blog readers, who hail from so many different camps, will never know ...

Abby Turned One

Many of my readers are on facebook and would have seen plenty about Abby's 1st birthday. But for the sake of those who aren't, here's a quick rundown.

For Stephen's sake, we needed to have a party. And Grandma Leatherman was in town, so we decked the walls with streamers, baked a chocolate cake for all of the (5 adult) guests, and purchased Abby her very own cupcake from Cakes on Walnut. It even came in a cute box!!!

She enjoyed the festivities, and now has a drawer stuffed full of clothes and toys that make her brother jealous.

She's a fun kid (except when she doesn't want to go to sleep at night). She says a handful of words, unintelligible to anyone but her family. It goes a little bit like this:
"Do" means: do (she has to keep busy); dog; kitty; daddy
"Stee" means: Stephen
"Mamamamama" means: mommy; food
"shoo" means: shoe
"t" means: tent
"zhu" means: cheerio
... and that's all I can think of right now.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Chickpea Crackers

The kids are [drumroll please] BOTH sleeping ... so I poured myself a bowl of cereal and topped it with some half frozen milk. Stephen must have been playing with the dial in the refrigerator. But I'm not upset. (See first sentence for reason why.)

Since I know some celiacs and some other people (such as the girl I babysit) who avoid wheat, I sometimes try my hand at gluten-free cooking. I know many common meals such as chili already are gluten-free; it's the things that almost always contain wheat that need the special twist to make them gluten-free.

A friend of mine posted a recipe for Chickpea crackers a couple weeks ago and I gave them a try. I'm sure the author enjoyed them but they just didn't cut it for me. I couldn't nail down what it was about them that I didn't care for but since I now have a bag full of chickpea flour (it's not very expensive and is most commonly found in the baking aisle with the selection of Bob's Red Mill flours) in the cupboard I wanted to give it another shot. Here's what I came up with. I was pretty happy with it! (And by posting it I can throw away the post-it note it's scribbled on.)

1/2 c chickpea flour
1/4 t salt
1/4 t baking powder
2 T ground flaxseed
1 T sugar
1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 t oil
2-4 T water, enough to make it stick together but not too sticky!

Mix ingredients together to form a ball.
Using enough flour (this is where I cheated and used wheat, but you wouldn't have to) so as not to get the dough stuck on the rolling pin or the counter, roll the dough out.
Cut into squares with a knife.
Put on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.
Let cool on a cooling rack.

This doesn't make a huge batch but was a good snack for me and the kids yesterday.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Abby Tries More Food

As Abby is approaching one year of age, I have begun introducing to her some of the staple foods that most of us enjoy on a daily basis. Because of the history of allergies in my family, I have been extra cautious and waited longer than most doctors recommend waiting to introduce the big three: wheat, dairy, and eggs. Of course there are other "big ones," such as peanuts and fish, but in my family WD&E were the culprits.

Saturday we started out with wheat. I made some whole wheat crackers that were very bland but also very simple. She has eaten some every day since then.

Today I delved into dairy. I probably will still wait quite awhile before doing straight milk, as that is not tolerated as well as cheese and yogurt. Besides, she still nurses a lot. So for lunch I mixed up some berries with some plain yogurt. (That's what this video shows.)

I think Saturday will be the egg day, since we have friends visiting and I'll be making a casserole for them.

And while she isn't having any major reactions such as ezcema or hives, I must say I find the wheat to be somewhat suspect. Her nose has been running and I don't think she's sick at all. I'll give it a couple days before I decide to eliminate it again. I hope for her sake that she doesn't have to be on a special diet. But then again, there are worse things, and it would probably help her to eat healthier.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Little Boys' Dreams Do Come True

We had such a busy day yesterday. And not just lots to do. There was a lot going on all at once that I knew would be a lot of fun for Stephen. It all started out with a birthday party. Stephen has officially "discovered" that birthday parties are the BEST! Cake and toys and kids ... what's not to love about that? At this party, the kids made individual pizzas and then did some songs/activities. Eating the pizzas and the cake was great fun, too.

After that, we drove over to the Champaign Public Library where Steve Roslonek was giving a free concert. Stephen recognized him from his Steve Songs segment between SuperWhy and Clifford. His favorite song is about shapes: "Line line circle circle square square square square triangle triangle ..." And thankfully Steve saw to it that that song was performed for the crowd. (Our friend Nadia even got to help him with the motions!!) We also saw SuperWhy who was quite large. Sadly, Alpha Pig didn't make it; he is Stephen's favorite!

Even though Stephen had done a lot at that point, I thought he might enjoy seeing some of the animals at the Vet Med school's open house. The crowds were a little too intense for him, so we ended up making a bunny ears hat and then running around the pen with the obedience dogs.

After that, I made him rest by watching a movie. We had some people over for a discussion last night and the boy zonked out at 7:30 (early for him; he goes to bed between 8 and 9).

Today has been a magnificent day for me, despite the rainy weather. I slept in and Ryan got up with Stephen. Then I went to a coffee shop by myself for an hour and a half. Now I'm home but BOTH kids are sleeping and that's been the case for over an hour. It'll be nice with Abby and Stephen's naps (or Stephen's rest time when he doesn't nap) coincide all the time.

Oh, and speaking of little boys' dreams ... some people reading this might like to know that I heard Stephen saying "how bout legos, grandpa?" when he was going to sleep last night ...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Des Moines Update

I'd say we did pretty well getting all the kids in the picture, even though they aren't all smiling. This was at Rita's house on Friday night. We had a little pizza party, and it was here that Stephen discovered his love of Cheetos.

I wanted to include this one, just to show off Abby's lovely hair and because Anna was so excited to be holding her little buddy.

Here are Abby and Addie, who is 2.5 months younger. They were both quite social when we got together to play on Friday morning.

Stephen was pretty excited to visit "Uncle" Peter at his pharmacy in Adair.

Those who are my friends on Facebook might have known that Grandma Susan got us in (or out, depending on how you look at it) to see the helicopter at Methodist Hospital.

Stephen even got to sit in the pilot's seat!

It was a wonderful week, seeing friends and family. It always goes by too quickly. In other news, Ryan sprained his wrist the Friday before we left. We're thankful that it doesn't seem to be broken. (We did have an x-ray done and nothing showed up.) We're currently in the middle of making sure that our home is a safe place for all of us to be. We had some lead contamination that seems to have been taken care of, and now we're wondering if the glaze on the bathtub that was supposed to seal in the lead is causing its own problems. It's disconcerting to feel like my own house is poisoning our children.