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


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 inclination against 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


Mom, I'm frustrated. 

You're frustrated?


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: