Friday, September 30, 2011

Our Family According to Will

During the first two weeks of school, Will's class focused on families, friends, pets, and homes. One of their art projects related to this focus was to create their home (using construction paper, crayons, etc.) and place all of their family members inside (using pictures cut out of magazines). Here's Will's finished product:

I was actually quite impressed withe the work he put into this project; Will doesn't care much for art and his projects usually involve a slash of crayon across an otherwise blank page. But when I looked closer, I discovered that while Will certainly spent a good amount of time cutting out and coloring his house, he likely didn't spend a great deal of time selecting the pictures of his family members. Here we all are up close:




Now and Forever Fictional Brother

And Will


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Doesn't That Hurt?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Will and Hallie's (and Tom's) first day of school. Now, a few weeks in, school's going wonderfully for everyone. Tom and Will are having great semesters, and Hallie has discovered that school is in fact her favorite place on the planet.

Hallie talks about school ALL THE TIME. She begs me to drop her off there (I probably hear "When you drop me off, Mama?" every hour or two) on the days she's home with me, tells anyone who will listen that she goes to school (which she pronounces "skoal", so no one ever has any idea what she's referring to), and talks a mile a minute about what they did in class once I've picked her up.

Hallie is a little bitter about the fact that Will gets to go to school four mornings a week and she only gets to go two mornings a week. That first Wednesday, when we dropped Will off and then walked past Hallie's (dark and empty) classroom, she burst into tears and didn't stop crying for more than an hour. Later that day, while shopping at Lowes, Hallie picked out two women who somewhat resembled her teachers (whose names are Holly and Andrea), pointed at them, and yelled, "You are NOT Miss Ha-wee! You are NOT Miss Andwee-a!" The women were very confused.

The playground at the kids' school is pretty awesome - lots of play structures, sand boxes, and bicycles - and both kids consider recess a highlight of their day. I already knew, since Will attended this school last semester, that the play structures are surrounded by small pebbles. I'd periodically find a pebble or two on our carpet or in Will's shoes after he'd taken them off, but for the most part he'd clean out the pebbles and sand at school when they got to the point of bothering him. Apparently Hallie either doesn't know how to take off and clean out her shoes or has a considerably higher tolerance for pebbles underneath her feet - here's what I found in just one shoe right after she took it off.

This might be the only downside to skoal.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Kids Say the Darndest Things...

Super Powers

Will: Do you want to know what my super power is?
Erin: Sure!
Will: I can be invisible.
Erin: Cool!
Will: What’s your super power?
Erin: I can fly.
Will: No, that’s not it. Your super power is singing while you’re eating. And Dad’s super power is driving with his eyes closed.


Will skipped his nap and then fell asleep in the car while we were running errands later that afternoon. When we pulled into the parking lot at our first stop, I gently woke Will up and he started to cry.

Hallie: Mama, Will’s cwy-ing!
Erin: Yes, he is. He’s having a hard time waking up.
Hallie: (turning to Will) Ha ha ha! Will’s cwy-ing! He’s a bayyyyy-beeeee!
Will: (through sobs) I’m not a baby!
Hallie: Will’s cwy-ing! He’s a bayyyyy-beeeee!
Erin: Hallie, it’s not very nice to make fun of Will. Let’s try to cheer him up so that we'll all have a good time at the store.
Hallie: Ok. I chew him up. Will! I chew you up!
Will: (cries harder)
Erin: Sheesh.

Safety Manual

Last month we traveled – via four-hour airplane ride – to Washington for a wedding. Once on the airplane Will required very little of his parents’ time and energy; thanks to his Leapster and a few snacks, we heard from him only when he had to go to the bathroom. Hallie was a different story, needing an endless supply of books, art projects, cartoons, and snacks to distract her from kicking the seat in front of her and screaming at the top of her lungs.

Toward the end of our flight, a restless Hallie desperately wanted Tom to read to her but was less-than-thrilled about the books in her backpack. At that moment she discovered the seatback pocket in front of her, pulled out the safety manual, and handed it to Tom.

Hallie: You read dis.
Tom: (Reads Hallie the entire safety manual while Hallie listens intently.)
Hallie: Now seen (sing) it.
Tom: What?
Hallie: You seen (sing) it to me.

For the remainder of the flight, Tom sang the safety manual – cover to cover – to Hallie. Now if you ever hear her singing about lifeboats or oxygen masks you’ll know why.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Baby Lily Update

Time for a baby Lily update - she's just too cute not to post pictures of.

Rockin' out with Grandpa Paul (the first picture, and the way Lily's looking at
Grandpa, made me tear up).

Enjoying a wine cork.

A cute close-up.

Swimming in Grandma and Grandpa's sled...

... just like Will did, four summers before.

And enjoying bubbles...

...also like her cousin Will.

I can't wait to hug that little munchkin again!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Family Fun Night

The week before classes started at TAMU, new faculty members were invited/encouraged to attend a two-day New Faculty Orientation. (Even though Tom began working in January, he attended the orientation figuring that more information would be better than less information when it came to the University and its system, policies, protocols, etc.) After the first day of orientation, faculty and a guest were invited to a reception and dinner hosted by the President (Tom and I attended), and after the second day of orientation, faculty and their families were invited to a Family Fun Night at the TAMU Recreation Center. The invitation to the Family Fun Night indicated that after the dinner families would be able to use the recreation facilities, including the swimming pools, so we were geared up and excited about taking a dip in a VERY nice outdoor pool on a VERY hot day.

Unfortunately the individual/team in charge of planning the event never bothered to check the hours of the rec center, which meant that after promising the kids a swim if they behaved during the dinner, we had to go back on our promise and deal with the inevitable meltdowns that came soon afterwards. Kind of a bummer.

We did, however, enjoy the center pieces on the table.

And Will loved the bayonette-twirling presentation.

Hallie, not so much.

I guess guns with swords on the end just aren't her thing.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

First Day of School

All four members of my family were excited about heading back to school (though I wasn't heading back to school myself, I was pretty excited about everyone else doing so and about the four of us getting back into our school-year routine), but Hallie was beside herself with glee in the days, hours, and minutes leading up to her first real school day. She was up bright and early that morning, and was all smiles throughout breakfast.

I tried to take a picture of the three of them before we headed out the door, but after five minutes and 40 attempts in triple digit heat (at 8:30am), I called it quits and accepted that these photos were the best I could do.

When we got to Hallie's classroom she strutted in, said "hi Miss Holly, hi Miss Andwea" to her teachers; and parked herself on her spot on the carpet. I had to beg for a hug and kiss, and after I took this picture she told me I could leave. I'm incredibly proud that Hallie is as independent and confident as she is, but she's two, people - how about missing mommy just a little, Hallie...

One of the goals for the four-year-olds in Will's class is for them to become as independent as possible in preparation for kindergarten. To this end, parents are asked to walk their children to the door of the classroom, but to say goodbye at the door (we don't go into the classroom) and allow the children to handle signing themselves in, hanging up their backpacks, putting away their water bottles and lunch boxes, and getting to work all on their own. Will cowered a little at the classroom door on the first day, but has done well since then - it helps that his best buddy Logan and gal pal Kennedy are in his class.

Tom's class/semester is going well so far. His department (Industrial and Systems Engineering) moved into their new building over the summer, so he now splits his time between a very nice office and a tricked out lab. Tom has three students - two graduate students and one undergraduate student - working for him, and has a group of solid graduate students taking his class, Special Topics in Cognitive Ergonomics.

As I mentioned, Hallie loves school. Here she is singing one of the new songs she's already learned - I LOVE it. (In case you can't tell, the lyrics are, "It's September, School is here, we are making new friends, fall is near.") Please excuse her husky voice (allergies) and messy face (spaghetti).

Reminds me a little of this video, filmed when Will was exactly the same age as Hallie is now. (The lyrics are, "I'm a little shamrock, look at me. These are my green leaves, one, two, three. ??? it's time to say, Have a happy St. Patrick's Day.")

Monday, September 12, 2011

How About a Bowl Full of Toys?

(This is a potty-training post. Those of you who don't like to read posts with the words "pee" and "poop" in them should stop reading now.)

To hear my mom tell it, potty training me was like skipping through a field of daisies. "When you were 22 months old you asked to wear pretty panties. I told you that to wear the pretty panties you had to pee in the potty, and you said 'OK'. It was so easy!"

Because I believe(d) in karma, I expected to have at least one easy-to-potty-train child.

Karma's a b*^%#.

Will, at 35 months, was a late potty trainer. He started making progress around 18 months, peeing on the potty whenever we set him on it. It took him a year and a half though, punctuated by a three-day potty training boot camp weekend, to get from that point to actually potty trained. The process, with the exception of the boot camp weekend, wasn't particularly difficult or stressful, it was just L...O...N...G.

He looks so little here!

After that experience, I assumed that Hallie would be the one for whom potty training just clicked. Ha.

Potty training Hallie has been both difficult and stressful. She can tell us when she's actively peeing and pooping, asks immediately after she's done to have her diaper changed, and can, to some extent, control her bladder. All good things, right? The flip side of the coin is that Hallie CANNOT figure out how to release her pee while sitting on the potty. She also REFUSES to sit on the potty, regardless of what we offer her.

It doesn't help that most of her underwear - size XXS,
the smallest size made - won't stay up.

This morning Hallie woke up with a dry diaper. I suggested she sit on the potty. NO. I asked her to sit on the potty. NO. I begged her to sit on the potty. NO. And then in a moment of weakness and desperation, Tom and I collectively offered her - and had every intention of following through on - the following rewards if she would just sit on the potty. (She didn't even have to pee - she just had to SIT.)

- One M&M
- Five M&Ms
- One sticker
- Five stickers
- Fruit Loops for breakfast
- Fruit Loops with M&Ms for breakfast
- A new toy
- A bowlful of new toys

After each offer she just smiled and said "no" in her little sing-song voice. She even said "no, thank you" a couple of times, and after Tom offered her a bowlful of toys she laughed and said "I awe-weddy (already) have a toy fwom McDondalds!"

In two weeks Grandma Susie and Grandpa Mike are coming to stay with the kids for a few days while Tom and I head to Iowa for a wedding. We're leaving the potty training to her.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


There is no master race.
There is no greatest nation.
There is no one true religion.

There is no inherently perfect philosophy.
There is no always right political party,
morally supreme economic system,

or one and only way to heaven.
Erase these ideas from your memory.
Eliminate them from your experience.
Eradicate them from your culture.

For these are thoughts of division and separation,
and you have killed each other over these thoughts.
Only the truth I give you here will save you: 
Carry this message far and wide,
across oceans 
and over continents,
around the corner and around the world.

~Neale Donald Walsch


Friday, September 9, 2011

The Best Part of My Day

My absolute favorite part of every single day is when, while getting ready to take a bath, I take off Hallie's diaper, hand it to her, and watch her teeny, tiny butt race through the bedroom and the living room on its way to the Diaper Genie. I know that sounds like a weird thing to appreciate/enjoy/look forward to, but the enthusiasm with which she delivers that diaper to her room makes me smile, and the way she runs crookedly cracks me up. Though I'm looking forward to Hallie being potty trained, I'll miss this little diaper delivery.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Is there a way for kids to eat Oreos that isn’t so disgusting?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Destructo Baby

Hallie is remarkably gentle when she pets animals and combs my hair. Hallie is remarkably destructive when she does ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING ELSE.

Hallie hits members of her family, her toys, the furniture, the walls – anything within reach, really – when she’s even a bit bothered.

And even when she’s not bothered, Hallie rips the eyes off stuffed animals and dolls and pulls the heads and extremities off Will’s superheroes. She throws toys out the window of the car, jumps up and down on board games, and walks on books.

Oh, the books. The poor, poor books in our house. Nearly from birth, Will was as gentle with books as a child could possibly be. He graduated from board books around his first birthday and has literally never torn – accidentally or on purpose – a page of a book. Will used to insist that we check ripped books out from the library so that we could take them home, repair them, and return them to the library in better condition.

Hallie, on the other hand, destroys an average of three to four books a week. And we’re not talking about simple, easily-reparable rips; Hallie tears book pages into 20 or 30 teeny, tiny pieces. She then brings me the books and the 20 or 30 teeny, tiny pieces and boldly states, "You fits (fix) it, Mama." As if, Hallie. I'm not a miracle worker.

You’re probably pretty worried about Hallie, and about what kind of child and adolescent Hallie will become, after hearing all this. You can bet I’ve done my fair share of worrying about her. There’s a positive in all this though, and that’s that, with the exception of the hitting – which is pretty normal two-year-old behavior – none of Hallie’s destructive behavior is done out of malice or in anger. I actually think she’s just incredibly curious about how things work, and what happens when things are taken apart.

It’s because I believe she’s not out for blood that I was able to forgive her for this:

Day 1

Day 2

That’s right, folks. Hallie broke my toe. (I wish I would have taken a picture on day four or five - that's when it looked REALLY good.)

I’ve broken seven toes (competitive soccer was not kind to my feet), so this, my eighth broken toe, wasn’t really a big deal to me. I treated it as my nurse-mom used to instruct me to do when I was in high school: take Ibuprofen and put ice on it. Thankfully, 24 days post-break, the bruising is gone and the swelling and pain are almost gone.

My goal in the coming months is to (continue to) teach Hallie to treat books, toys, and people a little more tenderly – I certainly don’t need another broken toe!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Any Way You Want It

These two love to dance. Especially in their underwear.

And just for fun, here are links to a few of their dance numbers throughout the years.

Super Heroes
Keyboard Demo
Block Party
Single Ladies

We're starting Zumbatonic (Zumba for kids) at the end of September, mostly because it's time for Will to learn a new "super move".