Thursday, December 22, 2016

Wednesday Artwork

This is the coloring picture Will brought home after class last night from Wednesday night service. I love the random blue nose. 

 

On the reverse side, he drew "a Mustang with me riding in it." He pointed to the fin on the back of the car and said that he was "jumping over something with my front wheel." I loved this! I love the steering wheel and his little hat.  What will his art look like in a year?

 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Captain America!

A couple weeks ago we rented Captain America Civil War through VidAngel (which I highly, highly recommend, it was our first time and I was blown away). Brian liked it a lot and the next day he showed the boys several scenes from the movie. It was their first exposure to a superhero movie - want to guess if they liked it? - and since then they have talked about Captain America a lot. Tonight I let them play with my pot lids and they were in heaven. Overheard (Barrett): "Will, you be Superman, and I be Star Wars." 

In these pictures they are yelling, "Captain America!!!"

 
 

And their most enthusiastic fan:

 

"I look like Mr. TJ!"

 
 

Christmas Sunday

 

 
 
 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Miss Martha

Our neighbors, Earl and Martha, are incredible. Incredible. Earl plows our [extremely long] driveway out of the goodness of his heart, every time it snows, and he's always available to help Brian with a mechanical problem or yard project (especially if it involves a chainsaw!). Kind of like a dad. And Martha sends our kids little surprise packages each holiday, always delivered by Earl. They're filled with incredible homemade chocolates - cake pops, chocolate covered pretzels and Oreos, toasted coconut chocolate bars - that look totally professional and taste AMAZING. She used to work in a library and a bookstore, and she's always sending the kids different books- some of our favorites have come from her. We had them over for dinner last fall and Martha and I got to talking about Legos. Since then, she's sent over little Lego figures and sets for the boys for holidays. She and I have three affinities in common: we love kids' books, toys, and sweets. I just love talking to her on the rare occasion that it happens (I think we are both rather introverted). 

So today, when Earl brought over several beautifully, perfectly wrapped gifts to the house today during the kids' nap time, I ran to put everything under the tree. (We have NO wrapped gifts under the tree yet, and Will has been begging to wrap presents. Nice, Maegan.) The silver, sparkly wrap looked magical. I ran to get Will out of bed. "Come and see what Miss Martha sent you!" He gasped at the sight of those little gifts under the tree. "Can we OPEN them?!"

So, I let them. After dinner, after they both ate ALL their soup, they got to open the gifts. Inside the treat bags were the same decadent chocolates as always, decorated in Christmas sprinkles. "Wow," they exhaled, as always. Then they opened their little toys. They were Lego sets- a snowman for Barrett and a set of Santa's workshop elves for Will, who excitedly exclaimed, "I always always always wanted Lego elves!" 

(Neva got the Duck and Goose Christmas book- one that the kids have frequently seen on the back of our OTHER Duck and Goose books and asked to get from the library (which I've never done... nice, Maegan). How does Martha know what we love, every time?!?)

Brian and the boys put together the snowman, Brian patiently walking the boys through doing it themselves. Despite the snowman's small stature, he inspired enormous pride and enthusiasm. We didn't get to do the elves tonight (looks like a more complicated set), but I've promised Will he and I can do it tomorrow (maybe after we wrap some presents). 

I wish Miss Martha knew how much joy she sends. I tell her, but there's no way she knows.

 
 
 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Just about the cutest thing ever

 

Neva and Barrett both share a love for our instrument basket, something William has had only varying interest and over the years. My two youngest, however, love playing our instruments and, even more adorably, love playing them together.

Neva crawls to the corner several times a day to pull out her favorite toy, the dog shaped guitar that, with the press of a button, plays catchy little tunes to which she can eagerly shake her little shoulders and bounce her little knees. When Barrett notices her here, he runs to join her, pulling out his tambourine and playing along while she selects different songs. I have not been able to get this on video yet, but I assure you it's just the most adorable thing ever. In this picture below, Neva was playing the tambourine while Barrett was pressing the guitar buttons and clapping his hands to the beat. Occasionally he will shout hallelujah! (like some people do in church), which is hilarious when Guitar Dog is playing "BINGO" or "Old McDonald had a Farm."

 

Seeing these two playing music together always makes me stop what I'm doing - I can't help it - and peer sneakily around the corner to spy. This is what it's all about. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Santa

We don't tell our kids that Santa is real.

I don't have a problem with Santa in general. We've got lots of books about Santa and I don't mind watching a movie about Santa here and there. I think the story is fun. It's like reading Cinderella. I tell the kids that (so the story goes) Santa is so excited about baby Jesus giving us the greatest gift, salvation, that he brings gifts to all the children of the world in celebration.

I do have a moral obligation to telling the children that Santa is real. It's a lie. I don't want to build Christmas on a lie, when the real meaning is so much better. Christmas has always been magical for me and Santa has never had anything to do with that... and as a bonus, I never experienced disillusionment with the holiday when finding out Santa wasn't real. Santa was never real, but Christmas was always wonderful.

This year, William and I have been talking about it a lot. He doesn't understand why some parents tell their children that Santa is real. "Does Santa visit their houses?" William's cousins (who live up north, where we will be this Christmas) are right at that prime Santa age, and I've told William that under no circumstances must we say to them this Christmas, "Santa isn't real," because they believe he is. This is extremely confusing to William. He thinks in black-and-white. Why would their mom tell them that? Isn't that a lie? Is Santa real, or isn't he? I tell him that it's a game that some people play, that a lot of people like to do that, but I don't. And every time, I reiterate the amazing story of the first Christmas. 

But I still don't know if I'm doing it right. I've heard him say everything from, "I wish I could believe in Santa," to, "I hate Santa." 

SO I cringed inwardly when we were shopping in the toy section at Meijer today and Santa walked up! Darn it, I knew this particular employee was going to be playing Santa because he had stopped me two weeks ago in the produce section (I was by myself at the time, but apparently I make enough of an impression every other time, that he remembered I had kids) and had told me he was going to be playing Santa from the 16th to the 18th and that I should bring the kids in to see him. I was all, "oh, you're going to do a great job playing Santa!" And inside I was thinking, yeah, I'm not gonna do that. I'm already trying to navigate this whole issue with my son and I don't want to confuse him by bringing him in to sit on your lap. And when deciding to go to Meijer today, I even remembered it was the 16th and that Santa was supposedly going to be there, but I assumed he would probably have a chair set up in the Christmas section and that we could just skirt on by and avoid it all. Well, there was no avoiding it when we heard the sound of jingle bells and he approached us in the obnoxious vtech aisle. The kids' eyes were very big, especially Will's, who did most of the talking. 

I was polite and encouraged the kids to tell him to have a safe flight. When he told the boys, "I'm going to be visiting you in about a week," I lightheartedly said, "Tell him make sure to come to my Nana's house instead." I tried to be free and easy about the whole thing because I wanted Will to see that it was OK to pretend that this guy was Santa, just like you might pretend that a Ben Franklin imitator is really Ben Franklin. The gentleman asked Will if he had been a good boy, and William replied that he had, and then "Santa" told Will that he had seen him and Barrett being very good boys in the store all year… or at least, his elves had seen him being a good boy. He then asked William what he wanted to get for Christmas, and Will told him that we still needed to wrap the presents and put them under the tree. When Santa pressed him - "What toy do you want for Christmas?" - William hesitated for quite a while before telling him that he just didn't know. We chatted for a couple of minutes and then bid him farewell (but not before he gently poked Neva on the shoulder and made her burst into uncharacteristic sobs of fear... what is it with Santa and babies? I kid you not, an hour and a half later as I was going through the checkout, the same guy came back in his Meijer uniform and chatted with me (the boys were distracted watching a video) and Neva was all smiles and grins at him, even when he poked her in the shoulder again.)

I hope I navigated that whole Santa encounter successfully, I thought.

But tonight, Will triumphantly declared at the dinner table, "Santa is real. Dad, next time you go to Meijer, I want you to see Santa, because he hasn't met you yet."

 
 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Barrett

Mom, I'm frustrated. 

You're frustrated?

Yeah. 

Why, Barrett?

I'm frustrated with the baby. 

With the baby?!

Yeah. It's takin' so yong. 

 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

First Michigan (big) Snow

So far, this year, William is a Viking. He loves to be out in the snow. He's got this cute way of listing all the fun things he did when he comes back into the house. "We played in the snow, we rode on the tractor, we made snow angels, we went sledding, and that's all."

Barrett, on the other hand, does not like to be out in the snow. William wasn't crazy about it at two years old either. Makes me wonder what life will be like when all of our children are four years old and up. They won't be cute and chubby anymore, that's for sure, but we will be a heck of a lot more mobile. Will we do all the fun things I imagine, like taking advantage of the free snowshoe program in Oakland County or building a snow fort as a family?

Anyway, Brian took the boys out on Sunday morning when church was canceled due to heavy snowfall. What a gift. I don't mind taking the boys out, but factor in the baby and suddenly things are more complicated. Brian sent Barrett in when he had had enough of the snow, and in total Brian and William were probably outside for close to two hours. He wouldn't have been able to stay outside that long with me! (Because of everything else we've got going on around here.)

I did end up taking the boys outside yesterday and we had fun. There was no snow falling and the air was warmish. Neva slept the entire time until we were ready to come back in.

Only problem is, they're gonna want to go outside again today…

This was on Sunday, when they went out with Daddy:

 

This was with me yesterday:

 
 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

My Barrett Boy

I just love Barrett's little personality. I can tell that he does things not for attention, but simply because they make him happy. Case in point: Neva's headbands. Packing for a trip, I brought Neva's headband barrel downstairs, and it wasn't long before Barrett discovered it. He sat studiously at the table, desiring no attention, just pulling headband after headband onto his head. His method was as clean as you'd expect from a two year old: pull taut, then pull down over head and hope for the best. Every third headband flew back off his head and sometimes took two or three more with it. By the time I discovered him, he had a veritable helmet of headbands on his head. Laughing, I pulled out the camera- and that's when Will wanted in. "Mom, can you take a video of me? Mom, how do I put these on? Mom, can I see the picture??" That's Will!

Barrett was very pleased with the "hat" that he made, and William got the attention he desired, so everyone was happy. 

 

  
 

(It occurred to me, right after I published this post, that Barrett is like Brian and William is like me. Which fits with our birth order. Brian does things for his own satisfaction. I do things and then seek Brian's approval for them! I guess I really like hearing the words, "Wow! Great job, Maegan!" Firstborn problems.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Today

A little bit about Neva. She's a feisty girl. She knows exactly what she wants and doesn't want. I think she's my pickiest eater yet. She'll just spit the bite right out if you manage to trick her. 

She is very musical. At the very hint of a tune she'll start dancing, her whole body wiggling from head to toe. Unless, of course, you're trying to get her to do it on command.

Today she started saying 'uh oh!'

She's got two teeth on the bottom, and on the top she has a gap where her two front teeth should be, and instead she has the teeth on either side so Brian says she looks like a hillbilly.

She's a thumbsucker whenever she feels the fuzzy side of her blanket. She loves books, especially small board books that are just her size. She loves her babies already, and because of them Barrett has a little baby to play with, whom he calls 'baby Jesus,' although baby Jesus is a girl. 

She screams with delight when Brian walks in the door after a long day. "Dada!" And she's crazy about her brothers. They make her laugh like nothing else. 

This is her latest favorite spot. 

 
 
 

This is Barrett and Will and Baby Jesus. 

 
 

7 weeks

What a day! Definitely sacked with exhaustion. I'm at the point in my pregnancy now where I am systematically eliminating foods from my diet because I eat them ravenously one evening and then spend the rest of the night burping them up... the next day, I don't even want to think about them.

I have a mega sensitive nose right now too. It was already very powerful after I had Neva and now it seems my olfactory abilities have further improved! 

Trying to work out every day still, weighing in at 135 pounds. 

It hit me this morning that this is the second Thanksgiving in a row that I'll be pregnant. I've never had pregnancies this close together before. The only people I've told so far are Katie and Kathleen. I'm excited to tell my parents at Christmas with everybody there. I figure the last pregnancy should have a special announcement of sorts. :)

I'm not sure if I'm already showing, or if this is just afternoon bloat, but I'm sure I'll show faster than ever with baby #4. I am thinking that this little baby's going to be a boy. Why? Well, I felt more miserable with Neva than I did for either of the boys, and at this point I don't feel quite as miserable as I remember feeling with her. 

I'm kind of glad I haven't told anyone, because it requires me to put on a brave face and suck it up because I don't want people to know I'm feeling sick and put two and two together. I feel a lot of stress with Christmas coming, and after that the shower and the wedding, and I feel like I have my head in the sand to some degree trying to avoid the reality that I have quite a lot to do right now and it's difficult caring for the kids already (three kids has been quite an adjustment, even over 11 months in!) without feeling crappy on top of it. For example, Thanksgiving is in two days and I have barely had the time or inclination to cook. I have things I need to be doing to prepare for it and instead I'm just sitting on the couch (during a rare and precious triple nap), writing this blog, because I don't want to get up!

For all my griping and whining, I am truly trying to soak up every moment of this. I realize it is very likely this is the last time I'll ever experience pregnancy sickness. My time having babies is nearly over. I try to look into each of my kids' faces every day and treasure them. This is all going by so quickly. So I suppose I don't mind if the time drags on. I guess that's another reason I've got my head in the sand regarding the upcoming events. I know that with everything ahead, the next few months are going to fly by... and with that, a few months of my pregnancy will fly by too. 

 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Home Alone

Brian went to Montana for a long weekend to finally fill a mule deer tag. He brought home a nice buck and we spent the six days doing as much as we could to avoid a black hole of loneliness. 

On Wednesday night we went to church, I covered toddlers nursery, and we stayed extra late to fellowship.

On Thursday, after an errand to the credit union, we picked up Grandma Jo Anne and had another day at the cider mill.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Neva was pretty cute after we got home. She made a nest in the blocks basket and tried to sleep in there. 

 
 

On Friday, we did our Thanksgiving dinner shopping at Meijer; twenty minutes after we got home with a billion groceries, kids hunpgry for dinner, it was time to leave for our evening (great planning). The kids enjoyed a really fun evening at the Thompson's house while I went to the ladies' meeting at church. Then Becca drove back with us!

On Saturday, Becca relaxed with me and the kids. Well, actually, she pretty much took care of the kids all morning while I handled some yardwork that badly needed to be done. Then we took about seven hours to get ready to leave for Target, where we met Hannah and had a really fun little shopping trip. Home, we cooked delicious soup and a casserole for core group on Sunday. We stayed up quite late talking, Hannah and Becca amusing me by debating the same topic for about two hours.

 
 
 

Sunday was core group, where we stayed extra late to talk and play. Back home, the long weekend kind of hit me as there were about four hours to go until bedtime and everybody was exhausted, whiny, and melting down, and the house felt like a wreck. A well timed bath time saved us. 

And today, Brian comes home.