Wednesday, October 26, 2011

TEN Random Thoughts, TEN Cute Photos . . .

1)  Ben is obsessed with food - cooking with real food, pretend toy food, eating, cook books, cooking magazines.  We were at Chuck and Melissa's for dinner a few Sundays ago, and Benjamin was looking through her cooking magazines, which is something he does pretty often over there.  This time he asked if he could take it home.  And of course Gramma said sure.  Then Ben asked if he could get some of his own "food magazines" for Christmas.  Wow, he may be the only 3 year old boy that has ever asked for cooking magazines for Christmas!  hehe.  He likes to look at the pictures and talk about what food it is, if it looks yummy, if he'd like to make it, etc.  Funny kid.  

2)  I feel like I'm barely staying afloat as a mom some days. . . like the days Ethan doesn't get home until 7pm.  Or the days that I haven't slept much/well for various reasons.  Three kids often seems overwhelming still (but, no, not always).  There are so many opportunities when I think, "This would be so simple without a baby (naps, feeding, diapers, etc.)."  There are so many places to be, so much noise, so many needs, etc.  I feel like it will get tons better when I'm in my own home again (we're supposed to close November 21st!!).  I need to work on staying calm and keeping a peaceful countenance, big time.  No matter the noise level, or how many little people are asking me to help them/do something for them/listen to their story/etc.  Man, if it was just Anna and Ben-Ben, or just Caleb J., life would be SOOOO easy!  But, all three . . . not a moment of rest!  For the love!  :)  And I know three kids in five years is not unheard of.  It just seems like I'm still adjusting, and I didn't expect that.  Sometimes I'll look at all three kids playing on the floor, close to each other.  It's noisy, there are toys everywhere, I know dinner needs to happen soon, and then the whole bed time thing for all THREE of them, and I think, "I have too many kids.  It's so much work!"  So, just thought I'd vent for a second.  (And of course can't say all this without clarifying that of course I love them all, and am so grateful for the little babies Heavenly Father chose to send to me. . . but knowing that and feeling that doesn't always make the day-to-day go perfectly.) 

3)  I recently went to a Women's Conference in Green Bay for my Church.  I'll admit, I was mostly going to have a break from the kids (see above comment :), but I got so much out of it.  Some of it was a little "cutesy" for my taste, but mostly I felt so happy to be part of this awesome Stake filled with amazing women who taught me so much that weekend.  My mom taught one of the workshop classes at the conference (and I sang for it), and it went so well.  She did a fantastic job!  I felt uplifted and reminded of important truths that I need to focus on.

4) I love scarves, and sweaters, and cardigans . . . so I'm happy it's fall! And it has to be pretty chilly for me to wear these items, and we're finally there. I love seeing my family wearing these things too. Gram Melissa just got Caleb his first cardigan ever - gray and red thick stripes and it's super adorable. I'll take a pic next time he wears it.  (We had a little shopping day with a few other girls from the ward after the Women's Conference in Green Bay.  Fun!)

Ummm, so the pictures posted to the middle of my list, and I didn't want to take the time to move them around.  So, there you go.  The top photos are of an afternoon hike a week or so ago around Lakenen-land.  It's junkyard art made from scrap metal that a local guy (Mr. Lakenen) creates and displays for free.  Cool.  He sets them up in the woods, about 15 minutes out of town.  The kids loved it.  Benjamin has brought it up at least once a day since then, and really, really wants to go back. 

After, we stopped by Gram Melissa's (Grampa Chuck was in Vegas . . . for a work conference) for some pizza and BABY KISSES!  Caleb was on a roll with GramMelissa.  It was so cute!  (So sad the pic of Cabers giving a big, slobbery smooch to Melissa turned out fuzzy!)

5)  Okay, I guess this one goes along with #2 - so a little more venting.  :)  I thought that living for 9 months with Ethan gone so much would prepare me for longer hours when he started working his first job.  Apparently not.  Because days that he doesn't get home until 6:30/7:00pm are SUPER hard for me.  And it means that he only gets an hour or LESS with the kids before their bedtime, which is SUPER hard for him.  I am so grateful that he has such a wonderful job, that he's doing so well at it, and is in a career he loves.  He works three days a week at the Medical Center in town and is done right at 5pm or so.  Even if he has a little paper work to finish, he can go back later - after the kids are in bed.  BUT, the two days he works at the Munising hospital, sometimes appointments go a little long (He's supposed to be done at 4:30), and he has to finish all the paperwork before he leaves (which sometimes takes awhile), and THEN it's an hour drive home.  Bleh.  But, he's getting quicker with the paper work. . . and I know I should not be complaining.  Three days a week Ethan gets home at 5-ish, and two days a week he gets home around 6-ish, occasionally later.  It could be so much worse!  I know.  Moving on . . .   

6)  Anna doesn't like school that much this year.  It makes me sad.  She's really easy going, and she doesn't make a huge deal about it, but she loved going last year, and just isn't loving it this year.  But, she's been loving being at home with me.  (She goes two full days and one half day for kindergarten.)  I've been trying to do fun stuff with Anna the days she's home, and Ben's at pre-school and Caleb is napping.  We've baked some and done some crafts.  It's special.  I love having one-on-one time with my girl!

7)  I had a little lunch date with my sister, Beth, last week.  We try to get together regularly, but hadn't for awhile.  I've missed it.  I love all the conversation - frivolous, spiritual, kids, house related things.  (They just bought Stuart's parents house on the Lake, but they're re-doing all of it to make it their dream home . . . and I'm moving in to a house soon and have a few - less significant - plans of my own.  But, we both love talking about house plans.  And we both feel a bit of stress and of wishing it was all over.)   Anyway, I love my sister time.

8)  Cabers gives such sweeeeet kisses.  (See pics above. :)  I'll admit, Ethan gets them more often than I do.  It's kind of their thing.  But, sometimes I'm lucky enough to get a few slobbery, open mouthed ones for myself.  hehe.

9)  I've been volunteering in Benjamin's pre-school class on Wednesdays, and I have LOVED it!  It's been good to be back in a classroom setting (as far as my education degree is concerned . . . it's been awhile!) even if it is a preschool classroom.  And it's been especially interesting to see little Ben at school.  He is a great listener, quiet, shy, helpful, etc. at school.  And it's not like he's never those things at home, but mostly he's my little, wild man.  (Especially compared to Anna Banana. . . which isn't fair to compare, but . . . )  Anyway, I've been loving it.

10)  Hmm, final thing.  What to share, what to share.  Oh, Caleb is on some liquid steroids (prednisone?) right now.  His lungs need some help getting over a cold he had (at least it didn't turn in to pneumonia this time!).  In case you've forgotten, steroids have some pretty crappy side effects and are NO FUN!  But, today's the last day.  Woo Hoo!  After feeling pretty on top of Caleb's health issues for a while ('cause it was summer time?), I've been feeling a little stressed going in to the fall/winter season, and all the bugs that go around then.  I'll just hope for the best, and I need to remember that even if he sounds AWFUL - wheezing, congestion - he's always had good blood oxygen levels even at his sickest, and his lungs have greatly improved over the last year.  (The last two times he was sick Cabers didn't develop pneumonia.  Yay!)  So yeah, just another opportunity to keep things in perspective, and try to stay positive!   Okay, I'll cut myself off now.

       Have a Happy Halloween filled with fun!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall, Beautiful Fall. . .

I was glancing at the blog and realized that we didn't have many "Fall-ish" pictures on here. And it's already October 17th, for goodness sakes!  The main reason is because we've had such warm, lovely weather this month, we haven't been doing many of our typical October activities.  But, luckily, it's now nice and brisk and chilly.  (40's and 50's)  Just like Fall should be.  hehe.  Well, before I get to the few autumnal photos I have, let me just share this one below. 

This is Grampa Dew and Caleb last week when it was 80 + degrees out.  I put this on here because a) It was my dad's birthday yesterday.  And, b)  I love the picture.  Caleb is always taking my dad's hats off his head, and putting them on his own, large melon. 

So, my dad turned 62 yesterday.  (And he only has 10 workdays left until RETIREMENT!)  My mom kept it low key since work people are planning a big retirement party for him in November, so just the in-town siblings and families came over for cake.  (My dad's fav is angel food with strawberries and whipped cream. . . in case you were ever wondering, "What in the world is Dewey's favorite cake??")  To earn the birthday treat, my mom said we all had to say a memory about my dad.  It was fun hearing everyone's stories.  They were mainly funny - Ethan's made me laugh the hardest, and a few sweet ones.  And I think everyone except Rebecca shared. . . we'll let it slide Becca.  :)  It was good to reflect - I have some really great memories of my dad.  The one that felt most touching to me was that when I was younger my dad used to "tuck me in" for the night with a handful of sayings/songs.  He did it all the time when I was little, and even occasionally during my high school years and beyond.  But, not since I've been married.

Well this past year, when Ethan was gone a lot, my dad came in and did the little routine a few different times.  It was sweet.  And a nice reminder that I'm always my "daddy's girl". . . even if it is his 29/30 year old daughter he is tucking in at night. hehe. (He doesn't literally tuck the bedding in . . . he kneels by the bed, or sits in a chair now that he's older, and sings a song and has a few other saying thingys. . . and some general chatting too.)  Sweetness. 

So after I shared that, Beth said, "Don't worry, I'm sure Stuart would love to tuck the girls in even when they're 30 . . . if they'll let him."      

A classic Fall activity:  We carved pumpkins tonight for Family Night!  Adorableness!

A friend of ours from church asked if the kids would dress up in Halloween costumes and be in a commercial for the pumpkin patch that she was producing.  (Anna is a fairy, Ben is a cowboy, and Caleb is an elephant in the wagon.  The pirate and fireman were the owner's grandsons.)  She e-mailed us a copy of  the commercial and it is soooo cute.  We're not allowed to share it though . . . maybe once it airs or is done airing?  Anyway, that is where we got our pumpkins this year.  The owner let the kids pick out any pumpkin they wanted as "payment" for the commercial.  (Caleb got a little pumpkin too, we just didn't carve it for him.  I'm going to let him color it, or stick Mr. Potato Head stuff in it tomorrow.)   

Well, I guess this post didn't turn out too Fall-ish after all.  This coming week we may try to go to a corn maze, and we have all the Halloween stuff coming up - church party, trick-or-treating, dressing up for school, Mom's Group family party.  Oh, and we had family pictures taken last Sunday afternoon, and I am sooooo anxious to see how they turned out.  They will be very fall-ish.  So, lots of fun stuff to look forward to.  Love this time of year! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

October??? And Our Exciting News . . .

We have had warm, beautiful weather this past week.  Very unusual for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  And even though I'm not a fan of hot weather, it was kind of fun!  (Yes, a few days even got into the 80's!)
This past weekend we really took advantage of the great outdoors, and were reminded of what a beautiful place we get to call home.   

So, Ethan and I have been wanting to have a little "get away" just the two of us.  Overnight.  No kids.  Much needed.  We try to do it once a year, and it'd been a year and a few months . . . so it was time!  We ended up staying in Marquette because I was still a little nervous leaving Caleb . . . so I wanted to be close, just in case.  Cabers stayed with my parents, and Anna and Benjamin had a fun overnight with GramMelissa and Grampa Chuck (including the High School Homecoming football game! and staying up waaaay past their bedtime! :)  
We stayed at the Birchmont motel and LOVED the view from our porch.  It was beautiful sitting out there on Saturday morning, after sleeping in until 9am!, and being a little envious of people who get to do that every weekend.  (But we love our kiddies to pieces. . . really! hehe.) 
We had dinner at Red Lobster . . . one of our favs.  We eat there once, maybe twice a year, but have never been while they've been having their Endless Shrimp special.  Oh. My. Goodness!  So delish.  hehe. 
We enjoyed the fall colors Saturday morning, and then did some shopping.  Fun, fun!  Everything without kids seems special these days.  We picked up our kids a little before 1pm, and although we were excited to see them, we also felt like we could have used a little more time away.  hehe.  We've never left them for more than one night before, but maybe next time we'll go for two.  :)

So, thanks to our awesome parents!  We had such a great time.

The rest of Saturday, after Caleb's nap, we spent at the beach.  It was beautiful.  We don't get too many beach days in October around here, so we had to take advantage!  This was Caleb's first real beach experience - crawling around, getting wet, eating sand.  Typical.  He loved it!

Love that squishy face!  (On both of them. . . hehe.)
My parent's and Buddy came along too.  Fun, fun.  My mom even went all the way in . . . impressive!
Love the picture with the shadows, and the one below of the boys walking back to the car.  What a beautiful, simple day!
Okay, now for our exciting news!  We put an offer on a house that was ACCEPTED.  We should close in 3-4 weeks.  Ethan and I were not opposed to renting, and kind of wanted to go that route.  But, after doing a little research, we discovered there weren't many options in Marquette for the size we needed (which isn't big) unless we wanted to pay more than what we'll be paying for a mortgage payment on a house.  So, buying is what we decided was a good choice for us right now.  And although this isn't the first house we've bought, in many ways it feels like it, and is just very, very exciting! 
We LOVE the house - awesome location and close to everything (and great neighborhood, so it'll be easy to sell when needed), cute outside and so many nice features inside, perfect size for us (I've never wanted a big house, and this one is only 1750 square feet including a finished basement room, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and there's potential to finish additional space/bedroom in the basement), beautiful (big-ish) backyard with no houses behind us . . . just woods and a fit strip (that's lit til midnight! and groomed for cross-coutry skiing in the winter), some original built-ins and doors (it was built in 1940), attached garage (awesome for the winters), and more. 
The house is about a mile or less to so many things:  Medical center - .6 miles (and where Ethan works 3 days a week), Anna's elementary school - 3 blocks (so also 3 blocks to the school, a park, tennis courts and basketball courts too), the High School - .5 miles, the Hospital - 1/2 block, the beautiful library - 1.1, my parents - .5 miles, the beach - 1.0 miles, NMU - three blocks (where we occasionally attend the theater, concerts or other community events. . . or to visit Grampa Chuck :), Third Street shops and restaraunts - three blocks and only .7 miles to Border Grill!  :)
We never thought we'd find a house that we loved as much as our first one, seen HERE, but this one has the potential to do so.  (It's not as old, but there are other features about it that we love too, maybe more?).  I never thought I'd want/like a one story house, but I love this one and already think how convenient it will be!  I'll show pictures once it's all official.  We've already had the inspection and the bank is scheduling the appraisal for this week, I believe.  We are sooooo excited to get our own place.  And even though my dad threatens to keep our kids hostage at his house, I think my parents must be excited to get their house back too.  Maybe . . . hehe.  (And, for the love, we're only a few blocks away from them.   Oh, and 2.5 miles from Chuck and Melissa. :)   It was a good experience doing two years of apartment living down-state, and this year at my parents was good in many ways, and such a blessing.  But we're so ready to have our own little house again.  Yay!!! 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Benjamin Bear

Little Ben-Ben started pre-school (Headstart) two weeks ago, and it was quite the adjustment.  Actually, the adjusting is still happening.  And knowing what I know about my little man, I wasn't really surprised that it's been hard for him.  He needs time to warm up to things;  Benjamin likes routine (more than your average 3 year old). The first day he was so excited to go.  He'd been looking forward to going to school for so long, and hopped right on the bus when it came.  I met up with him at school and helped him get situated.  He said good-bye, and was okay, but I could tell he was nervous . . . especially since he didn't realize that I wouldn't be staying at school with him.  The teacher sent a note home the first day and said Ben had a good day, but got sad (cried) a few times, but quickly got over it.

When he got off the bus the first day, he hurriedly said, "Mom!  I cried at school and they didn't let me call you."  But he said it in an excited, no big deal, kind of way.  I asked how school was, if he had fun, what he did, and he said, "Great!"   "Yeah!"   "I played with a new friend, Ruby."  All good answers.  Then, he said, "But I don't want to go back tomorrow."  

So, the next couple days got worse and worse, and I didn't know how long this pre-school thing was going to last.  Then, on Thursday of the first week (he goes Mon. - Thur. 10:00am to 1:30pm) I offered to drive him, and it made all the difference.  I think the bus thing was just too much, although he still rides it home.  He still says he doesn't want to go, but he doesn't cry anymore and he tells me all about the fun things he's doing and all the new, little friends he's making.  Sweetness.  

Oh, and can I just say that I LOVE the headstart program.  Benjamin's teacher is a fellow graduate of the El.Ed program at NMU, and I knew her from classes together. (There are also two additional aides in his class.)  I am going to start volunteering in his class on Wednesdays, and I'm very excited.  Once my kiddies are a bit older, I think this would be my ideal job to start out with!  I've also thought about starting to sub. for the headstart program . . . and maybe in public schools too.  I need to start getting back into the Education scene. . .  nothing extreme right now, but little by little.  :)   

Ben-Ben just got his hair cut a few days ago.  (See the pics above I just took tonight before bedtime.)  I LOVED his long, blonde haystack, but it was time. . . . always getting in his eyes, etc.  I think we'll let it grow out again.  Speaking of long, wavy locks  -  

These pics were taken during the summer, but I only posted them to facebook, not on here.  I think they just capture so much about my little boy.  Of course there's the obvious adorableness. . . hehe.  But I can see so much more in these pictures.  Maybe it's just because I'm his mama, but I see his curiosity, his playfulness and sillyness, his intelligence, his kindness and love . . . everything.  I love him.  Even when he throws little crying tantrums, or gets SO particular about things in his life, or when he doesn't listen.  I still love him . . . I could just work on staying more patient with him.  :)  Benjamin always says the most interesting, funny things.  (Wish I could remember something specific right now.)  I love the three year old, verbal age. . . and that he's still little enough for snuggling and smooching!  My favorite thing right now is when he's busy, busy, busy, but then takes a second to run up to me and say, "I love you, mama."  He's not the most affectionate kid out there, but can be such a sweetie, and he does have his moments with Ethan and I (and his Grandparents too :), and it makes them that much sweeter. 

Okay, final thing to wrap up this super long journal entry - I have some very, VERY exciting news to share with you in my next post.  Like, so exciting that I've been having trouble sleeping.  So, until next time -