Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Magical Rodents

Try not to get too jealous, but the white squirrel that roams our neighborhood officially made an appearance in our yard. It's magic.

Friday, June 14, 2013

"Take a Picture of Me!"

As some of you may have noticed, in our last family picture Peter had a toy car on top of his head. I didn't even notice until a friend pointed it out, but I laughed because it typified him (at least at this age) so well. Over the past few months, Peter has repeatedly said, "Take a picture of me!," usually while doing silly things. He must see me taking a lot of pictures of Lydia and get camera envy. So here's a glimpse into the life of Peter, or at least how he'd like to be remembered at age four-and-a-half. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Swimming Lessons

With a new baby plus three other kids under the age of seven, swimming lessons were high on my priority list this summer. My kids generally have a lot of self control around water, but I felt like I needed it for my own peace of mind.

Peter is my child with the least inhibition around water. I remember as a toddler, he'd throw himself into the pool, and I spent all my time retrieving my spluttering, but happy little boy. I never really needed many flotation devices for Benjamin, who always seemed to have a healthy dose of caution, but I learned pretty quickly that Peter needed a full body floating suit. He's outgrown the suit now, but he's still a bit overly confident in his emerging skills.
Peter was initially excited to start "Starfish" lessons this year, but each day afterwards he resisted going until we actually pulled into the parking lot; then he'd change into his swimsuit in the car. And after class each day, he'd reaffirm that he was in fact glad he went. I'm not sure how much more proficient he is with his survival skills, but he is already anxious to move on to the "next level!"

Nora was in the "Seahorse" class, and was the first to get into her swimsuit each day. She was excited to get to lessons, and I felt like she gained a little more confidence and got better at listening to her teachers. I still felt like I was looking at my little baby as I watched her in the pool.

Benjamin was a "Guppy," and got to have his lessons in the big pool, which was seperate from where Nora and Peter were. This made it tricky for me to watch and encourage everyone equally during lessons since they were all at the same time, but from the moments I did get over there, I was impressed with his determination and hard work. He learned how to float, got better at treading water, and learned how to swim a short distance underwater. He also got pretty good at swimming with a kickboard and a noodle.  

Monday, June 10, 2013

Grandma and Grandpa's Visit

We felt so lucky to have Paul's parents come and visit us last weekend! We got to keep Grandma with us a little longer, and enjoyed celebrating the end of school and the beginning of summer with her. We made some good memories and they got to know one of their newest grand-babies. Lydia is one of five cousins born or due in 2013 - two boys, two girls and one surprise coming this fall!
 Grandpa's first evening with us was spent in the basement when the tornado sirens went off. *Sometimes* we like to ignore those, especially when they happen right after the kids go to bed (I'm bad, I know...), but judging by the urgency and proximity of the report over our little radio, we decided it would be prudent to get everyone downstairs this time. We had a great time singing songs and finding the safest spot. The cubby hole under the stairs did nicely for the kids.
The kids also enjoyed a little extra story time with Grandpa. Peter was very concerned about the animals outside, and this helped get his mind off them.
The next day the kids wanted to go up to the art museum. Here's Nora channeling Degas' "Little Dancer."
The boys were so excited to go to a baseball game with Grandpa!
They had a great time together.
Meanwhile, Grandma took us girls to find a swing for Lydia. The old one we had broke after Peter was a baby, and I just decided it was one more thing to store, so I never bothered replacing it. Lydia LOVES it. I think Grandma may have single handedly saved my back! Thanks again!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Birthday Boy

I've been a mother now for seven years. I have a seven year old. I guess I'm coming to accept that it never becomes normal to watch your firstborn age.
Benjamin has grown a lot this year. He lost his first tooth. He started reading chapter books with relative ease and adds big numbers in his head. He learned how to ride a two wheeler bike. It seems like only a few short months ago he was stubborn and totally resistant when it was his turn to give a "talk" in primary. Last week, he helped compile his own talk, and confidently spoke in front of the entire group about his fourth-great grandfather. He's transitioned gracefully from being oldest of three to now oldest of four. He's catching on to saving his allowances, and sets big goals for himself.
I remember talking to a friend a little over a year ago about her son who was approaching baptismal age, which is eight in our church. I think I must have expressed some concern about Benjamin's lack of concern about what was right and wrong, which of course seems silly to me now.  She commented how she could actually see the accountability setting in with her son as he approached his eighth birthday. I'm starting to see that more with Benjamin too. He really is a good kid with a firm desire to choose the right. He certainly has his moments, like when he refuses to lose a game or can't bear to share that toy he wasn't playing with, but overall, he's getting it.
I am all about being realistic about what I can and can't do these days with a new baby. Benjamin really wanted to celebrate his birthday with his friends again this year, so I decided to check out our options that didn't involve me slaving over decorations, a spotless house or structured games. Our community pool seemed pretty reasonable, so we went with that. All I did for the party was make this awesome ice cream cake (it's just stacked ice cream sandwiches covered in cool whip, magic shell and a toffee bar) and compile some goody bags.
Benjamin invited friends from his class at school and a few church friends. Here he is with his cute friend Jack.
It wasn't a chilly day, but it was breezy and perfect weather for being outside- provided you weren't wet. I did feel kind of bad for the kids, one of which complained that this was "the worst day of his life." Of course, the ice cream cake didn't help. I joked that we'd themed our party "cold."
Here's Thomas, Evan, Benjamin, Alex, Ansar, Ben, Jack and Peter. Really a great group of boys. I was grateful for our two life guards who were responsible for entertaining and chasing them around the entire time, though!
We celebrated his birthday as a family today. Benjamin was thrilled to get the Lego set of his dreams (he told me that this was like a dream come true for him).

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Lydia's Blessing

 We had Lydia's Baby Blessing at church this past Sunday. Paul did a beautiful job. This little lady has great things in store for her life. I'm anxious to get to know her better through the years.
 I found this smocked cotton dress online. It came with a bonnet, which she wore for a few minutes, but then it just didn't seem right. When you've got hair like this, you just can't cover it up. I also found the smallest size white baby shoes there were for her to wear...seriously, there are few things cuter (or sillier) than baby shoes.
 Family of SIX!
 We were fortunate to have Paul's parents fly out for the weekend. We soaked up every minute.
 It was wonderful to have good friends there with us to stand in the circle.
Families are such a blessing. Not that I didn't recognize that before, but I'm coming to believe it more and more.

School's Out!

Benjamin finished out his school year in first grade. It's crazy to me how fast the time has flown. We will miss his teacher, Miss Hunt. She was wonderful- even with a crazy boy-heavy class.
Benjamin has really blossomed this year. He is loved by all his friends, and came home with the most heartwarming list of things his classmates had to say about him. I was equally impressed by his report card and the notes his teacher wrote. He's a really good kid.
We all came to the picnic they were having on the last day of school. It was fun to see his teacher and friends one last time before summer break. Benjamin's already had a play date with one if his school friends since then, so I'm sure we'll stay busy. He's a popular little guy!