Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Where have you been??

Or rather, where have I been???  Not on this blog -- that's for sure.  Never a dull moment around here, and I'm feeling guilty that it's taken me so long to document.  I really want to keep up with this for me and for my children (and for the two or three of you who read it when bored).  So now is my perfect opportunity.

Who wants to talk about how awesome it is to have a stomach virus when your husband is out of town???

Me neither.  So I'll just vomit photos on my blog instead :).  That was really gross . . . 

I'm able to stomach some saltine crackers and sit up a bit so here goes:

Mimi has been doing well in school and her after school classes, and she's making some really sweet friends.  It does break my heart when she asks about her besties in Chicago and why we had to move.  Like I have to hide my face so she won't see my tears it makes me so sad.  We do get to see a few buddies occasionally, but she loved her preschool class and our neighbors -- as did I.  Loved the city but also loving the benefits of living in Mayberry.  

Mack has been growing by leaps and bounds, and his feet are now a size bigger than Mimi's.  His hair keeps getting bigger also, but, no, Clint.  No, we are not cutting it.  Absolutely not open for discussion.  He has just started a new preschool at a public school that is crazy close to my house, and, oh my gosh, it is amaaaazing.  It is a class for kids with delays with lots of therapists and wonderful teachers.  They even have animal therapy with a doggie every Friday!  He is talking more and instead of screaming, "NO!" he politely says, "No thanks."  He's beginning to sit when he eats instead of dancing around the table.  I think he's even playing a little with the boys in his class, which is my favorite part of it all.  

And while I'm talking about Mack, I need to put something out there.  If you think there's something a little different about your toddler -- he's not talking as much as others, she's super sensitive to things that don't bother other kids, he avoids other kids or places, etc, etc -- PLEASE talk to your pediatrician and have the child observed for therapy.  It does not mean you have done something wrong.  Do not assume it is just a phase.  Do not blame it on their personality.  And if they find nothing, then you had nothing to lose.  But if they do see a delay or other issue, let them help!  It has made all the difference in our lives and I cannot get over how far Mack has come in one year.  You may have to fight for insurance to pay as one of my sweet friends just did or you may have to fight with your mother-in-law as another did, but your mommy and daddy intuition is usually right.  Every state and public school offers programs if you're concerned about money.  Therapists can even come to day care.  Please don't be the parent who does nothing and sees what happens.  Sorry, I had to do that because I wish someone had said this to me when Mack was even younger.  

Since he and Mimi are in school more, I thought I would have all this fantastic time to organize the house, sew some clothes, and actually cook dinner for once.  But every time I'm feeling a little cocky and like I have it all together, I totally flub up and miss something BIG.  Like on Friday when Mimi had a family day at school.  I know her teacher sent home notes and discussed it in the weekly newsletters, but somehow I TOTALLY missed it.  Didn't put it in my phone calendar or day planner.  Completely forgot about it after I saw the first note a few weeks ago.  She was quite upset and told me she was the saddest kid there.  Y'all . . . I was sick about this.  What a jerk.  Clint tried to make me feel better by telling me this probably won't be the first time -- WON'T BE THE FIRST TIME?  It better be the only time because I'm not missing anything in her life ever again.  Ever.  

Well, he's probably right, and we probably will mess up again.  So lesson learned.  Stop being so cocky.

Right Meemers?

Just when she thought she was winning . . .

Mr. Sharp Teeth showed her his surprise defense.

"OUCH!!!  Mack bit me!!"

It can be painful to learn lessons.

Wow, it feels like ages since I've seen that green grass in my yard.  Winter showed up early and showed up BIG this year.  This has been the craziest Chicago winter I've ever had.  School has been let out several times and we've had below zero temps much more than I care to discuss.  Oh, and then our boiler decided to get lazy on the coldest day I've ever experienced in my entire life.  How does 45 degrees in the kitchen sound?  It sounds awful, let me tell you.

Tasting the first snow back in November.

Although I'm not sure this fire puts off much heat, it sure is pretty.

Some of my family popped into Mayberry for Thanksgiving break, and many shenanigans ensued.

First "fast train" ride and it was magical.

Holy Moses, I seriously thought the little girl on the right was me.  
Wowzers, she looks exactly like I did at 5.

The Museum of Science and Industry is my favorite.  And Mimi's, too.

We also checked out one of those crazy wall-to-wall trampoline places, and we're huge fans now.  We even like the arcade.  "Mack, go faster!"

We do the Christmas tree thing the easy way and go to a local nursery.  My kids have serious fun running through the trees.

Wanna know how much the Olympic mom commercial makes me cry?  It's a bit ridiculous.  You know the one where the moms keep helping the babies up as they fall walking, as they're learning to ice skate, to snow board, to ski?  Oh my gosh, I'm tearing up as I type this.  If you have tissues handy, find it on You Tube right now.  I would post a link, but then I'd have to watch it over and over and I'm already a little dehydrated.  I heart that commercial so much.  Even Mimi wants to watch it again and again, and she loves to point out how proud the mommies are when the kids get up after they fall, just like she does.  Oh gosh, now I'm really crying.  

Raising my children in the Midwest means raising them to love winter sports.  Ice skating and skiing are something Southerners rarely do, but it's just like taking kids to a playground or the pool for us.  They need to learn early when their center of gravity is low and they aren't afraid of falling.  Mimi adores ice skating.  And boys in hockey uniforms.  Yikes.  She actually said to her little buddy, "Oh, Jay!  You look so handsome in your hockey costume!"    

And this little girl is FAST.  Just as fast as the middle schoolers.  I feel bad for the little boys who agree to race her and then she completely schools them.

When the weather isn't great enough for us to play outside, we have to find ways to entertain ourselves inside, which is hard.  Mimi colors on her paper.  Mack colors on his hand.

So Daddy brought home a new baby for us.

Meet Ruby Sue Darby.  Or as I like to call her -- Little Black Puppy.

Look at that face.  Those sweet eyes.  That fuzzy little beard.  You're baby-talking your computer screen right now, aren't you? 

We discussed getting a dog this summer when it would be warm for taking a puppy out a zillion times a day to house train.  But Clint ran across the Orphans of the Storm set up in the mall and couldn't leave this sweet thing there.  Little kids were squealing and jumping and poking at her and doing all the things one is absolutely not supposed to do with a dog, and little Ruby just sat there with her head cocked sideways and tail wagging.  And that's when he knew he had found our third child.

She is part Lab and part Schnauzer and part who knows what, and is beautiful and sweet and smart.  She adores children and is the greeter to everyone who enters our front door.  We taught her to sit in the first day and she's officially house-broken (once we got our act together and did it the right way).  My children have a new little friend who loves to play with them and snuggle with them on the couch.  She was an amazing traveler when we went south for Christmas.  My in-laws have a super shy little beagle rescue who is scared of his own shadow.  Ruby totally sensed this and took her time creeping over to him, sitting and wagging her tail, inching a little closer, and then letting the beagle get comfortable with her.  By the end of the day, they were besties.  LOVE, love, love this dog.    

Anyone want to come visit this weekend?  The beach is beautiful covered in snow :)

 And the pretty lagoons.  Must frame this one.

It's not the holidays without a homemade kitty sweater.

Snuggling on cold days.  Perfect Saturday.

I finally learned to ski.  I've always wanted to, but the beach calls my name around spring break so I kept putting it off.  Clint went skiing with some guys last spring and insisted I learn.  It is not easy to learn as an adult and it hurts like a whole lot when I fall, but just like the babies falling on ice skates I got up again (uh, tears), and I've found my new favorite winter sport.  I'm not very good although Clint insists I am (thanks, sweetie), but I love the challenge and the scariness of seeing a steep hill and knowing the only way I can safely get down is on skis.  No turning back.  We all need to scare the crap out of ourselves occasionally to feel alive, right?

The place we go in Wisconsin has a fun little indoor water park, so the kiddos got to do this.  I took Mimi for lessons a couple of weeks ago (ohmygoshtimeofherlife!!!), but I'll save that for the next post.

I refuse to join the rat race of the holidays.  As much as I love the commercial side of this Christian holiday, a few years ago I made myself stop feeling so dang obligated to do it just right.  The only thing I make myself get done early is Christmas cards.  I love getting them and I love sending them, so I force myself to put them together Thanksgiving weekend (but they don't get sent out until much later).  I use whatever pics I have saved on my computer and do not make anyone dress up or pose.  Because if you've ever seen someone try to make my family pose, it is a disaster.  Impossible.  Other than that, we get the tree when we feel like it, buy presents when we have time, and if something doesn't get done then oh, well.

Mimi wanted to wrap her own gifts.  Mack got a puzzle piece, I got an old video game, and Clint got a remote control we'd been searching for.

 Daddy insisted he be the one to attend Mimi's school holiday party, and she loooooved that he was there.

Sweet snuggle time Christmas morning.

A big, beautiful Christmas mess.

And then we stuffed them in the car and headed south.

Poking at a fire while sort of dangerous is also a lot of fun.

"Turn around, bright eyes . . . " he he he

Everyone should have an Uncle Bubba, and if you don't, then you should get one.  Mimi adores him.

Watch out for these two.

Mack's first trip to Huey's.

My sister just moved back to my hometown (can you believe it?) and bought this gazillion year old house that I adore, so we celebrated Christmas there.  And for the first time ever, ever, ever my entire immediate family was in the same place for about 4 hours.  It was a bit crazy but so fun and much needed.  Oh, and my sweet friend Elisha showed up with her camera and her mad photography skills. I'll post a pic when I finally get down to ordering them.  But my family is really, really cute.

Meemers with her cousin who is only a few weeks apart in age.

We enjoyed the fellowship . . . and our cell phones.  Seriously?  Can we not just watch the football game or play Scrabble or something?

 You're baby-talking your screen again, aren't you?  

With his ladies.

 Mimi is not living unless she's bossing someone around.

A fun slumber party with the girls.  Not sure how much sleep happened that night.

2013 was full of crazy changes and lots of love and a whole, whole lot of laughter.  Feeling quite thankful for my family, my friends, and even this dreadful stomach virus that is forcing me to sit on the couch and do nothing but go through old photos.  Now I need to watch that beautiful Olympic commercial and cry myself to sleep before getting the monkeys from school.

Happy New Year!