Monday, June 18, 2018

Millie update

23 months old today and quite sassy and opinionated sometimes. She says/yells "No way!" to the brothers and yells at me if she wants me to carry her.  Gives good scowls to strangers. But she loves to giggle, especially at Ben.

And this romper and those pigtails. I am deceased.

A favorite baby doll got dirty (cheetos and chocolate) and needed a wash. She howled while it was in the dryer. "Baby SAD!"

It was actually this same baby doll that she took to Andrew's last baseball game of the season.

(you can see the remnants of her head bonk)

She some of watched the Royal Wedding with me on DVR: "Pincess!"

One night I insisted we could watch more "girl" movies, and we watched The Princess and the Frog with the boys. They actually liked it. And she loved the parts with the "Pincess!"

She puts a hard "g" on the front of many of her words these days. For example, she yells "GILK" at me and tries to lift my shirt. Walk is "gawk," goggy is doggy, yogurt is "gogurt" (which is a real thing when we buy it), "gookie" cookie, "gink" for drink, etc.

These jammies her Nonna brought back from Hong Kong now fit her, and she begs to wear them.

They feel silky and soft and must be so comfy. And I don't know why she is doing jazz hands here, but it cracks me up.  

If someone is eating, she wants to eat, too. She really likes to have someone help her stand up in the fridge (we have the freezer drawer below) and stare at her options. Still won't take a sippy very well, but will guzzle from the boys' personal straw water bottles.

Still loves "Boss Baby" (when she is ready for bed she'll yell, "BABY!" and point to her crib). Also loves the movie "Moana" lately, and any and all Curious George books. She hears a lot of dinosaur and Lego and Superhero books when she toddles in during James and Andrew's bedtime reading with me.

And, miracle of miracles, she now goes to sleep all on her own with minimal fuss -- and life iso much better for everyone. It took a few nights/naptimes of us opening the door a crack and saying, "No screaming. Lay down. Night night." Or short sentences to that effect (I learned about the power of short sentences in therapy with James - say what you don't want, then what you want.).

Nursing is almost all done -- we are this close, until she looks at me with big eyes and says, "Gilk?" 

And she loves her toes painted pink. We are having so much fun with her!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Our dear friends the Peters invited us bowling with them recently. And Millie wouldn't let momma put her down.

So this is how we roll. And bowl.

Andrew is such a ham. He bowled really well.

James used the bumpers and the stand-thing.

The little boys had some challenges staying focused, when they saw all the arcade games behind us. But Max and Ben were in the zone. I didn't get any pictures of them! They are elusive. I need to take more of them. 

JB bowled some strikes and was h-o-t.

We love the Peters and had such a great time with them, before Katie goes on her mission.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

James turns 5

James turned 5 years old this past week, and has been asking me ever since when his birthday will come again, because he has a list of things he wants for his NEXT birthday.

I made his cake, and JB made him pancakes. He also requested Chik-Fil-A for dinner.

He knew about his two presents earlier, because he saw them already. And at the end of the day, I was regretting putting batteries in his loud roaring walking T-rex.

I took these pictures on the last day he was 4 years old.

James and I have been going to counseling/play therapy for 4 weeks now, and I wish I could say definitfly that it is making a difference. But I do see glimpses of him learning to control his huge outbursts, and figure out his big emotions.

The therapist had him do some drawing recently, to sort out feelings and such. When he drew me, this is what he said: "She smiles."

So of course that made me all teary-eyed. I have been working on showing him more love, but some nights I feel like all I did was yell at him that day. While James meets with the therapist, I meet with another and we strategize the best "Positive Parenting Techniques" through the Triple-P method (like Love and Logic but not as manipulative). I then try to share them with JB and the family.

James still loves dinosaurs, superheroes and trucks and Legos. Batman and Spider-Man are the favorites, though Hulk is really up there as well.  He can't quite stop kissing Millie or squeezing her cheeks. He and Andrew can play really well together, but he still attacks sometimes. He probably loves Max the best because of the patience he shows with him in creating Legos. Ben also does great Lego building with him and for him.

His legs are tanned and shins are bruised from bike riding and outside play. He seems so tall lately. I have 5T in his drawers, but the size 5 and 5/6 are fitting too. He's almost as tall as Andrew, who is 2 1/2 years older. Sometimes their clothes and shoes seem interchangeable. His yearly checkup is next month, so we will see how he is tracking. Kindergarten assessments are in August! 

Friday, June 8, 2018

End of the school year

Our Jamesy-Byron J-dog is now a preschool graduate! Their cap and gowns just slay me.

The candy leis were a hit, and quickly devoured. During his little highlight, the high school helper asked him to show off his roar so he did.

His very last day of school was a water day. He just had the best time.

I wish I could bring his preschool teacher home to our house.

I have no pictures of Andrew and Ben on their last day of 1st and 4th grade. I walked down to the school, but somehow they went by me and went home.

Benjamin did well in ELP  had great scores, and liked Ms Agrimson and she liked him. She said he was kind to others and attentive, especially to a boy who needed more academic and social help. He was also a peer buddy to one of the special education students. I missed his final dance performance (his teacher kept communicating through an app instead of through email or texts like normal people).

Andrew's teacher Ms Maher was not the best fit for him. She kept asking why he couldn't be quiet and good like the little girls in his class. And she wrote "Needs Improvement" under listening on his report card. I asked over and over for her to use a classroom mic because of his ear (even looping in the principal and the district), but she wouldn't.  But, his scores are all high.

Maxwell is all done with his first year of middle school! Almost straight As in his 7th grade honors/ELP classes. He grew a lot in confidence, made new friends and strengthened other friendships, and tried to be a friend to all. And he made Student Body leadership for next year, which was a big boost to his confidence to have people vote for him.

Now we are two days in to summer break, and would love any thoughts and prayers for JB in the mornings.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018


It is technically still spring, but it has been in the 90s all week.

JB goes on walks with the kids in the mornings, sometimes ending at the park. I try to walk/bike ride around the neighborhood every afternoon with at least the little kids, and it often includes a stop at our neighbors who have a candy basket...and a bunny.

Another neighbor has a turtle they bring outside sometimes. Here Greg is showing Millie how to use one finger to touch the shell.

Our neighbor across the street said his girls don't play with this slide anymore, so we are borrowing it. Andrew and James kept trying to haul Millie to the top and send her down their makeshift water slide one afternoon.

On early-out Fridays before school ended this year, the middle school set would skip the bus and walk home and plays at one of the boys' houses. (Once they went to a girl's house and Max said it wasn't that much fun). One recent Friday they came to our house. This is Spikeball, and Max and Ben are getting really good at it.

I bought popsicles and the kids tore through those pretty fast.

Isn't that picture just a hoot? James resting at the top with a turtle backpack, Andrew resting at the bottom. I think I used the promise of popsicles as a bribe for them to finish the neighborhood bike ride without complaining. (And i just found this post -- some things never change! And Max, Ben and Andrew were the exact same ages as Andrew, Ben and Millie right now.)

I have been keeping the sticks for crafts. Or walrus tusks.

Andrew's friend Eva is a good playmate.

I want to find a good balance this summer of play and structure. I still have to work early every morning, and JB still has to do his work from home. It can be a challenge to have kids at different ages with different friends and different ideas of what to do. So, we hope we can get through this!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

on grief

Last week, my brother Joe and his wife Susan lost their longed-for baby boy too soon.  20 weeks and four days. Her water suddenly broke a week earlier, and we prayed and fasted for a miracle.

The boys asked me about it often as we went through that whole week. Then I had to find the words to tell my children that their cousin Gavin had been born despite everything, and then he passed away after an hour.

So tiny, so perfect.

Joe and Susan are heartbroken.

What can you do in the face of such sorrow and grief? What can you say? I cannot make this better.

On Friday will be a graveside memorial service for this tiny baby. Several siblings and my parents are coming in from out-of-state.

Over the years I have done a lot of pondering on prayer. Why bad things still happen despite all our pleadings to God. Is there a trick to prayer to make the outcome different?

I know He listens to our prayers, but I wish I knew why some are answered and some are not.

I know He is in charge, but he's not a puppetmaster. We are here to experience all that mortality offers.

I know there are times when I have seen and felt the comfort He gives, when the timing is different than I have wanted.

Sometimes I try to see the end from the beginning, like, "Ok, this is why this is happening, to learn such-and-such lesson, or to help so-and-so, or whatever." I try also to jump to feeling better, or making it better for someone who is hurting. Stuffing the sad feelings down.

My coworker, who is Orthodox Christian, pointed out that, yes, Christ will not leave us comfortless, but now is not the time for me to be pouring out empty words of comfort. Now is a time to grieve.

And that's ok for now.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Head bonk

Millie not very graceful right now. She is head-heavy like toddlers are, and feels no sense of danger.

One Monday a couple weeks ago she stood up in her stroller, and it tipped her right over onto the driveway.  It was so sad.

It was a big big goose egg and scrape, even after I iced it for a while. I was only able to hold the icepack there and to calm her crying by nursing her (even though I am trying to cut back on the nursing).

The next day the swelling was down but the scrape was showing up (I kept texting pictures to my mom and sisters so that's why I have a daily look at it).

This is the third or fourth day as it scabbed over.

By Saturday at Andrew's baseball game it was getting better.

And by the next Monday it was disappearing.

But she has a pink spot of new skin there still today. One woman asked if it was a birthmark/stork bite.