Friday, January 24, 2014

Record lows

Do you ever remember a winter like this? Continuous snow, bitter cold for weeks on end, lots of germs circulating around and around. Even when I lived in Ithaca for 5 winters, I don't remember winter being this relentless. We got lots more snow there for sure, but it wasn't bitter cold for so long. And it's still January!

Last week we had a sickie week. Luke had a fever virus that got better and then turned into an ear infection bad enough to burst his eardrum in the middle of the night. Then the very next day, David suddenly got very ill and was miserable all night and delirious to the point of now knowing who I was. He ended up having strep throat. Two boys on the pink stuff and we're all much better.

This week has been miserably cold and the upcoming week is supposed to be worse. People are already speculating about school closings for cold temps again. Between snow days, holidays, and sick days, we have yet to have a regular week since Christmas.

So we're keeping busy with all of our regular activities, huddled up in the house and bundling 4 children when we need to go out. I hope you all are keeping warm, I am ready for a little bit of a break - even 35 degree would be nice!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Winter Sports

Last winter was challenging for many reasons, one of which was that I realized that boys with energy to burn who don't burn it get themselves into trouble. So I vowed to try a winter sport this year. David has always loved playing basketball in the street in front of our house (our neighbors have a hoop that all the kids on the street use), and this is the first year that he was old enough to play basketball with the Upward program. If you aren't familiar with Upward, it's a national sports program hosted by churches aimed at training kids in skill, attitude, and good sportsmanship. It's very well organized and offers different sports depending on the location. They also offer cheerleading, which Katy has been desperate to try, so we signed them both up.

They've each had a handful of practices and I was impressed with all they were learning, but the first games this past weekend blew me out of the water. They line all of the kids up behind a curtain, turn out the lights, turn on the smoke machine and the spotlight, and the announcer introduces them one at a time by name in a "Let's Get Ready to Rumble" type voice. At half time they have a lesson about good sportsmanship (or related topic).  And then the methods of teaching the kids the game were really cool. Each kid wears a velcro band representing his position, and the ref was actually teaching the kids and high-fiving them as he blew the whistle (explained what they did wrong, why they can't do that, etc).

For the first game, we all 6 went to both David and Katy's games (and there was a 3 hour break in between), but we won't usually do that. It was too much to try to keep the Littles happy on the sidelines for all that time. But it was worth it to be there for the first time. David made the first basket of the game!! (after almost making a basket for the other team)  And I happened to catch it on video!! He loved the whole thing and was so excited.

And Katy's reaction after she was done was that she LOVED it, and can't wait until the next game. I was also impressed with how many cheers they knew.

In this case, the videos explain it better than I could, so here you go: (David is #14, and Katy is the one in the middle but no ponytail. She cheers for older kids, so the game is a little more intense)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Anna's first birthday!

Dearest Anna,

Your momma was having all kinds of emotions on your first birthday. My baby! Becoming a toddler! How did it (really truly) go so fast? In a way, I am ready - I love your little one year old self and can't wait to see what you will do next! But on the other hand, we've grown accustom to having babies in this house and it is strange for you to be leaving that stage. To be piling up your baby bathtub, door jumper, boppy pillows, and slings to be...given away. All of those things have rotated through our home for 8 years...

But you are such a sweet baby, and we ALL love you so so much! (Well, Luke is coming around. He's 3, and you get into his stuff and he doesn't understand, but he still looks out for you if you are approaching danger). One of my greatest joys is seeing how much your older siblings adore you. I could not have imagined it - they are completely smitten. You can do no wrong in their eyes, you are the perfect baby, they ooohh and aaahhh over you like they really get it.  And even they were a little sad on your birthday because it means that you are growing up. And you love your Daddy - you go nuts when he walks in the door.

A snapshot of you at 12 months: you crawl at lightning speed and can climb stairs but can't figure out how to get down. You are so close to walking - you stand for 2 minutes at a time and even lean down to pick something up and stand back up. Close. I think you have about 3 words, even though they all sound like "da!". It's the context that let's me know whether you are saying "bye-bye," telling me you are "done" with your food, or calling for your brother David. I know there will be some skeptics reading this, but that is seriously what you mean. You love the dishwasher - come running whenever you hear it open. You suck your thumb a lot (as you can see in photos). You like to give kisses, especially through the railings as you go up the stairs for bed. We are in the process of learning to take whole milk from a bottle instead of nurse, and you are doing really well with that. You eat so many regular foods now - it started on our trip to Kentucky and you have never looked back. Maybe that's why you grew a little more for this well visit. Your stats at one year were 18 lbs 14 oz (35%'ile) and 28.5" (25%'ile). 

You've taken awhile to warm up to people other than your immediate family (everyone jokes that you cry when anyone except me holds you). But you are really getting better:  you just decided that you like the nursery at church! Just like that! No tears, just playing, 3 times in a row now.

Please don't think that just because you didn't have as big of a soiree as your older sister did for her first birthday that yours was any less important. That party back in 2007 was really more for your dad and I. We were really excited that we made it through the first year of parenthood and wanted to celebrate! For your first birthday, we just enjoyed being with you. (Unfortunately for a 4th child on a Thursday during the school year, that means we were working your birthday around sports practice, but it was still a good time.)

It's hard to come up with birthday gift ideas for a 4th child who also just had Christmas. But Grammy sent this and it is a hit! The big kids love it, too.  

Not my best cake, but it tasted just as good.

Giving Oma birthday kisses!

We had this toy when we were little, and Oma had a Christmas ornament on her tree this year that looked like this toy, which you were obsessed with. You chewed the stickers right off of it and carried it around everywhere. So I thought this gift was a great idea.

I made you a family photo book for your birthday, with recent up-close pictures of your family members with nametags. I made a similar one in 2006, but it had gotten torn up and out of date. You just stare and stare at these photos - all of these people love you so much!


Grammy and Papa John watching the candle blowing via Facetime.

In support of your birthday

She likes it! (mostly the icing)

The next day the kids were off school (again! for professional development) so we continued the celebration with my dad and Sue. First we met them at the big Graeter's with the play area and the place where you can see how they make the ice cream. Very interesting process. Aunt Mel met us there and Daddy came on his lunch break.

Banana split see saw

First ice cream! You ate half of a scoop, I was really impressed.

But you were really grabbing for Luke's chocolate.

Oh, and did I mention that we pretty much had ice cream for lunch? It's just the way the timing worked out.

Then we came home for naps, dinner, and gifts. Dad and Sue got you this cute rocking chair that you were really giggling about when we showed you how to rock. Look at all of these kids - so grown up - how did this happen?

So it was a great birthday, baby girl! I can hardly wait to see what this 2nd year will bring. You will grow and change so much.

Love you,

Monday, January 06, 2014


Today was supposed to be the first day back to school after break, but the outdoor thermometer currently reads 0 degrees and the windchill is supposed to be negative 25. Same forecast for tomorrow, so most likely we won't go back to school on Wednesday. And Friday is professional development day. And Katy missed the last two days of school before break. The great part is that Brian's university is closed today so he's home with us, too.  The big kids are doing some schoolwork right now so their brains don't turn to mush.

(Just as I was typing that paragraph, I got the text that there's no school tomorrow.)

We've been back from our trip for a week, and we've been home for most of that time (Brian worked a couple of days).  It has been REALLY nice to have the time off, but we're also ready to get back into a routine.  And the weather this winter has been rough so far. David and Katy start basketball/cheerleading this week, church activities this week, Girl Scouts starts back up next week (cookie time!), and we're gearing up for a first birthday!! (I have no idea what to get that baby girl for her birthday. She's a fourth child and I just used all of my ideas for Christmas. I'm making her something, not sure if there will be anything else.)

A random story that I forgot to tell back when we went downtown for the Nutcracker: I was driving a couple of girls in my car, in a caravan with another vehicle, and we happened to pull into the surface parking lot (in the middle of downtown - we were the only vehicles there since it was the weekend) at the same time as 2 other cars in our group. So it was raining and cold and I was flustered trying to shove cash into the honor-system parking fee box while 12-ish people were waiting on me. So then we walked into the theater. After the show, I was in line for the bathroom when one of the parents called me: "Ummm...Emily? You rear passenger door is standing wide open in the parking lot. The seat is soaking wet so I think it's been open the whole time?" (that would be over 3 hours). So then I was panicked all the way to the car, wondering if someone had broken into the car (GPS and stereo are the only things of value) or if it would even start if the interior light had been on the whole time. So I made sure I had someone who could give me a jump start if necessary and headed back to the car. GPS and stereo were still there, car started right up. One of the girls must have left the door open when we got out and I was too busy and flustered to notice. Shew! But is it sad that I am SHOCKED that nothing was stolen while my car sat visibly wide open in the middle of downtown for 3 hours? Unless they assumed it had already been broken into?

Just 3 pictures... 2 of which are leftovers from our Christmas trip that were emailed to me by other family members.

A cousin shot at my mom's house.

I love this - Kim is so great with her much younger boy cousins - they adore her and follow her around everywhere. All the girls do a great job of playing with the little ones.

Keeping busy in this long cold stretch of weather. And they've given away so many...this is just what's left over.