Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A New House to Call Home

On May 31, 2005, Tom and I purchased our first home in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And today, exactly six years later on May 31, 2011, we purchased our second home in College Station, Texas. In honor of this coincidence I wore the same outfit to our closing today as I wore to our closing six years ago. The skirt still zipped, so I thought that was a good sign.

The house has been vacant for nearly a year, so it needs a little TLC both inside and out. The lease on our rental runs through the end of July though, so we have a few weeks during which we can work on the new house while still living in the rental. Starting tomorrow we’ll be, among other things, painting walls, ripping up carpet and replacing flooring, lining up folks to service the air conditioner (the most important home appliance in Texas) and fix a couple of electrical problems, replacing a leaky shower surround, and landscaping the heck out of the yard. Oh, and shopping for new throw pillows, my favorite home accessory.

The house, though it needs some work, has some great features as well - brand new kitchen counters and back splash, newer kitchen appliances, new paint in a few rooms, an extra bedroom, an extra bathroom, a laundry/mud room, a playroom, and a good-sized yard. We can't wait to make it our own!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Army Guys

Will has always been fascinated by people in uniform...

Waving to the Washtenaw County Sheriff

Getting a little too close to an Ann Arbor police officer and his "moca-cycle"

...especially military service members, who he calls "army guys" and "army guy girls".

Last weekend I flew with the kids (by myself, but that's a story for another time) to Wisconsin, and then yesterday I flew with them back to College Station. On both journeys we had layovers in Dallas, which, as it turns out, seems to be a "hub" for service member travel. I've often seen military service members in airports, but in Dallas we saw HUNDREDS of individual service members as well as entire companies traveling, as best I can guess, to serve our country overseas. Will was in awe, and for every single service member we walked past, he said "Look Mama! An army guy!". (Yes, this meant that when we walked by an entire company he said "Look Mama! An army guy! And another army guy! And an army guy girl!" and on, and on, and on...)

Some of these service members were talking and laughing with their comrades; others were sitting quietly by themselves, no doubt thinking about the travel and missions ahead as well as the friends and family behind. Eventually Will asked me why there were so many army guys at the airport, and so while we waiting for our final flight to take off we had an age-appropriate discussion about why our country has a military and what the members of the military do for their jobs. Will decided that the next time he saw an army guy he would tell him "thank you for keeping our country - and our plane (there was a service member on our plane) - safe".

On this Memorial Day, let us all follow the lead of my wise four-year-old and thank a service member for keeping us and our country safe.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Tom and I have been playing Memory with Will since he was about Hallie’s age. Learning to play Memory is a gradual process – match just a few of the cards facing up, match all of the cards facing up (Hallie’s in this stage right now), match just a few of the cards facing down, and finally match all of the cards facing down. Will graduated to the final stage, which is of course actually playing the game as it was intended to be played, a couple of months ago.

While both Tom and I will admit to altering the outcomes of board games – I’ve definitely stacked the deck in Candyland and blown on the spinner in Chutes & Ladders to bring ridiculously long games to a close – we’ve never done so while playing Memory. Whoever has the best strategy and the best memory wins. “Deal with it, Will – Mom and Dad rock at Memory.” (For the record, Tom and I’ve never actually said that to Will. But after a long day of losing every single sword fight, running race, and basketball game in which we’d been involved, we may have said it to each other after he went to bed.) Until last week, that is, when for the first time, neither Tom nor I had the best memory.

Here’s a picture of the victorious Will with his slightly-taller-than-my-pile pile of matching cards.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's Just a Little Crush

We went to our second Powersports birthday party, this time for a little girl in Will’s class named Kennedy, back at the end of April. (Kennedy has a little sister, Kandace, who is exactly the same age as Hallie, so Kennedy and Kandace’s mom kindly invited Hallie to attend the party as well.) Will had an absolute blast the first time we visited Powersports, and this time was even better.

I loved watching Hallie step timidly onto the trampoline, slowly start to bounce, and then eventually go crazy jumping up and down.

Sorry about the blurriness - I didn't have time to adjust my camera before she moved on to the next activity. I like this picture though, because you can tell she's smiling.

Hallie followed her big brother around trying to do whatever he did, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

Will didn’t pay much attention to Hallie though, because – and someday Will is going to hate me for sharing this here – he has a little crush on Kennedy.

That's Will on the right, and of course Kennedy is the pretty little girl in between the three boys.

Will talks about Kennedy all the time, to the point that now Hallie also talks about Kennedy all the time because she thinks that’s what we’re supposed to do. He waits for or runs to catch up with her so they can walk in and out of their preschool classroom together. We’ve been going to the same church as Kennedy’s family, so Will and Kennedy wait for each other and then hold hands on the way into Sunday School as well. (We’ll be out of town for the next two Sundays, so yesterday Will told Kennedy he regretfully wouldn’t be able to eat Sunday School snack with her again until June.)

Kennedy seems to like Will as well. Her mother shared with me that every morning while she makes Kennedy’s lunch, Kennedy checks in to find out which of her lunchbox items Will could eat (all of the kids in Will’s class know about his allergies) in case they want to sit next to each other and share treats at lunchtime.

Kennedy is from Texas, and I believe her parents are as well, so they all have Texas accents. With a Texas accent, “Kennedy” is pronounced “Kinnidy”. I of course don’t have a Texas accent, so I pronounce Kennedy’s name differently than she and her mother do. One day, while Will and I were having a discussion about Kennedy’s upcoming birthday party, Will stopped me mid-sentence and said, “Mom, you’re just not saying her name right! It’s Kinnidy!” So though Will has a decidedly Midwestern accent, he speaks just the name of his girl Kennedy like a true Texan.

Both Will and Hallie enjoy Rascal Flatts’ music, so we rotate though quite a few of their CDs while driving in the car. One of Will’s favorite songs is Oklahoma-Texas Line, the chorus of which includes the line, “She has long blond hair, and big blue eyes. I’ve got all I ever need when that girl is by my side.” After a few listens through the song, Will suddenly shouted from the back seat, “LIKE KINNIDY! Kinnidy has long blond hair and big blue eyes!” Oklahoma-Texas Line is now affectionately known as Kinnidy’s Song in our car.

Will’s first crush: perhaps a silly topic for a post, but one worth spending a little time on in my opinion. In the years to come I want to remember how full my heart felt when I watched Will find so much joy in another little person.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Kids Say the Darndest Things...


Tom wore a nice pair of plaid dress shorts and a polo shirt to church. While the choir was singing, Will tugged on my arm and motioned for me to lean down so he could ask me something.
Will: (in a whisper) Mama, why did you let Daddy wear his jammies to church?
Erin: Those aren’t his jammies, Will. Those are his shorts.
Will: Hmm. They look like jammies to me.

Spelling Bee

These days Hallie is very interested in writing her name. I’ve been holding her hand and helping her “write” H-A-L-L-I-E, and as we write we say the names of the letters out loud. She likes to practice on her own as well…
Hallie: I white (write) Haa-yee!
Erin: Wonderful! Show me!
Hallie: H… A… (Just scribbles, but still impressive that she knows the letters, right?)
Hallie: 12… 14… 16… 18… 19… 20… X. Haa-yee!

Driving License

Will: Mama, when will I get a driving license?
Erin: When you’re 16.
Will: (defiantly) Ha! I’m going to get a driving license when I’m 15!
Erin: Actually you can get a learner’s permit when you’re 15. You can’t get an actual driver’s license until you’re 16.
Will: How do you get a driving license?
Erin: You have to take two tests – first a written test, and then a driving test with an instructor.
Will: What’s a constructor?
Erin: An instructor is a teacher.
Will: Will you come with me with the constructor?
Erin: No, you have to take the test with just the instructor.
Will: (with tears beginning to well in his eyes) I don’t want to go with the constructor by myself!
Erin: Then you don’t have to. We won’t make you take the test to get a driver’s license. But you can’t get a driver’s license without taking the test. It's the law.
Will: (with tears streaming down his face) But I want a driving license!
Erin: Will, this isn’t something you need to worry about right now.
Tom: Will, how old are you?
Will: (bawling, holds up four fingers)
Tom: So you don’t have to worry about getting your driver’s license for at least 11 years.
Will: (still bawling) Mama, how do you get your kid back after the test?
Erin: Well, I’ll take you to the DMV –
Will: (through sobs) What’s the DMV?
Erin: The Department of Motor Vehicles. (At this point I couldn’t hold it in any longer and I started laughing because the conversation was just so ridiculous, and I had to take a moment to compose myself.) I’ll take you to the DMV, you’ll take your tests, and then we’ll leave together.
Will: Did you have to take the tests?
Erin: Yes. Grandma Brenda took me to the DMV and waited while I took my tests; then we drove home together.
Will: How do you find your kid after the tests?
Erin: Moms wait in the lobby for their kids.
Will: What’s a lobby?
Erin: A room where people wait for other people or to be called for appointments.
Will: Are there chairs?
Erin: Yes, there are chairs.
Will: (having calmed down and gotten undressed for his bath) Look Mama! I’m buck naked!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

Four Generations

Last week Grandma Brenda (my mom) and Grandma Geri (my mom’s mom, my grandma) came to visit. I hadn’t seen Grandma Geri since my sister’s wedding in June 2006, and Will and Hallie had never met her. That didn’t matter to either of them though – five minutes after the introductions they were showing her Buzz Lightyear and Minnie Mouse and trying to talk her into playing MLB Memory and reading Blueberries for Sal.

I'm posting this picture because the story behind it is kind of funny... Will asked Grandma if she wanted to play basketball with him, and she answered, "of course, but how about in five minutes when I've finished my drink". Will replied, "alright - can I see your watch?", and then stood right next to her and watched the seconds tick away for five straight minutes.

The Grandmas’ visit was short, especially considering that Grandma Brenda drove all the way from Wisconsin and picked up Grandma Geri in Arkansas along the way, but was also one I’ll always remember. These two days were the first time that all four generations – daughter, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother – were together.

Will didn’t understand why he couldn’t be in the girls’ picture, so we took one of two generations of boys as well.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Reading Secret is Out!

The fact that Will can read is out - though I wasn't the one to share the news - among the parents of the kids in Will's preschool class. We were at a birthday party yesterday and two different moms came up to me and asked, in amazed whispers, "Can Will...READ?!"

Proud doesn't even scratch the surface.

Friday, May 13, 2011

One of These Things is...Exactly Like the Other

If you’ve been reading this blog on a regular basis you already know that Hallie is little. Not height-wise (she’s in the 50th percentile for height), but weight-wise – she finally passed the 20 lb. mark last month, which keeps her firmly in the less-than-1st percentile for weight. And as it turns out, when you’re growing taller and not wider you can keep wearing the same clothes season after season, year after year.

Example #1

Rockin’ this adorable dress on Easter in April 2010… (Sorry these two pictures aren't the greatest - apparently we didn't take very many good pictures on Easter last year.)

…and again on Easter in April 2011. (So that Hallie wouldn’t feel left out I also wore the same thing on Easter this year as I wore on Easter last year. It still fit – whew.)

Example #2

Trying on her first bikini in February 2010…

…and actually wearing her first bikini at the swimming pool in July 2010...

…and washing the car in the same bikini in April 2011.

Looks like I can check “shopping for clothes for Hallie” off my to-do list!

They Say it's Your Birthday...

(Apparently Blogger has been experiencing technical difficulties since yesterday and during that window of time lost more than 30 hours of posts. I'm reposting Wednesday's and Thursday's blogs today.)

Happy birthday Aunt Sara!

I won't tell you how old she is, but I will say that she's younger than me and celebrating a milestone birthday this year!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Monday, May 9, 2011

Here Comes Peter Cottontail

Happy Easter! The festivities began a few days early with an Easter egg hunt at Will’s preschool. Will was on a mission to find his 12 eggs as quickly as possible while Hallie daydreamed and wandered around behind the “big” girls in Will’s class – sounds about right.

At the starting line.

While his teachers tried to get everyone to smile for the camera, Will and Jackson had a bunny battle.

Close enough.

Two days before Easter we made rainbow cupcakes (the layers didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped they would, but there were no complaints in the taste department)…

…and lemonade popsicles…

…and Rice Crispy treat bird nests. (This project proved particularly difficult. We make our Rice Crispy treats with “Will butter” because of Will’s dairy allergy, and “Will butter” doesn’t set the way regular butter does. The mess was ridiculous, the bird nests didn’t much look like bird nests, and Hallie so disliked having her hands dirty that she wouldn’t touch anything but the jelly beans.)

What a mess!

Will with the finished bird nests, and Hallie with her jelly beans.

In case you're wondering, this is what they were supposed to look like.

On Easter Eve we dyed eggs – another messy but fun project.

Our dye was particularly dark so the kids stripped down to their unders. (There were no complaints, since it the temperature was in the 90's.)

The finished eggs.

And on Easter morning the kids hunted for eggs and played with the gifts the Easter bunny left for them before we headed off to church.


Happy Easter!