Thursday, April 26, 2012


Recording Hallie's April song brought about another video series instead of just a single video. I encourage you to watch them in order, as together they'll give you a good laugh.

At the end of every day Hallie looks just like she does in this video - leotard (instead of whatever cute dress in which she started the day), messy hair, grubby face.

In video #1, Hallie decides to stop singing in order to better focus on picking the "boogies" out of her nose, and then she's somehow distracted by Princess Leia to the point that she can't focus on the month of April any longer. I probably shouldn't post this, but it's just so Hallie.

In video #2, Hallie's concentration and confidence are thrown off when she burps midway through the song.

And in video #3, I made the mistake of asking Hallie to smile while she sang. So while she finally gets through the song, she looks a little creepy from beginning to end.

And the words, in case you can't understand them through all the nose picking, burping, and maniacal smiling, are:

It is April, it is April
Grass turn green, grass turns green
Rain will help the flowers, rain will help the flowers
Buds in bloom, buds in bloom

It's December
It's November
It's October
It's September

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Chalk on the Sidewalk

Do you know that song?

Chalk on the sidewalk, chalk on the sidewalk
'Nitials on the tree, 'nitials on the tree
Everybody knows it, everybody knows it
Paul loves me, Paul loves me
Tall Paul, he's my all
Tall Paul, he's my all

My mom used to sing it to me and Sara when we were little. :)

Lately I've been trying my hand at a few projects, recipes, etc. I've come across on Pinterest.  Most recently I made sidewalk paint, which turned out to be easy to pull together, fun for the kids, and easy to clean up (as long as it rains).
Hallie would only paint with pink and purple, and focused on creating a very large square by painting the same spot over and over and over again.  Will painted a hopscotch game, but by the time he finished painting he decided he was too hot and tired to actually play hopscotch.

And yes, Will and Hallie do nearly all of their art work - indoors and out - in their underwear.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

An Evening Walk/Sword Fight

This has been a rough semester for Tom. He's teaching two classes (instead of the usual one), and puts in quite a few really late nights every week.

On the rare occasion Tom makes it home before the kids' bedtime, the four of us like to head out into the neighborhood for short walks. Well, Tom and I would like to take long walks, but Will and Hallie can only make it for about eight blocks for starting to whine and then cry and then attack one another.

My favorite walks are the ones that turn into sword fights along the way.  Their time together may not be large in quantity, but it's large in quality.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fun at Preschool

I've written frequently about Will and Hallie's preschool, and how thankful I am that we found such an incredible learning environment for them when we moved to College Station. Not a day passes that I don't see both Will and Hallie growing and learning and loving school.

I've also written frequently about Hallie's teachers - Holly and Andrea - and how wonderful I think they both are.  Together they create the PERFECT environment for Hallie, and she has absolutely thrived as a result of their love and support and patience.

Just like Holly and Andrea "get" Hallie, Will's teachers - Nancy and Fran - "get" him.  They have kindly and patiently helped Will maximize his five-year-old academic and social potential and make the absolute most of his last preschool year.  I almost chuckle to myself when I think about how different Will and Hallie's classrooms are (I attribute this in part to the ages of the children but in part to the teachers and their teaching styles), but since Will and Hallie are completely different from one another, everyone is happy where they are.

Will's been especially excited about the happenings at school recently.

We've been to Pizza, Pie, and Parents (their Mothers and Fathers Day celebratory luncheon):

Goofy boys.
Waiting to perform their Family Song for all of the parents.

And the kids loved their three-week rain forest unit:

This photo doesn't do the classroom decorations
justice - they were incredible!
Once again, goofy boys!
Will's class also hunted for Easter eggs (pictures to come in our Easter post), and now he's looking forward to lots of fun end of the year activities as well.  I can't believe he's almost done with preschool and will be off to kindergarten in the fall!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

When She DOES Fall Asleep... usually looks something like this:

I'm always glad when she falls asleep, but I wish she didn't insist on using her books as blankets. It leaves the pages all sweaty and bent, and I bet the library doesn't like that.

The New Nap Time

Heaven help me, naps are happening less often 'round these here parts.

Both kids still are forced to retreat to their rooms between 1:30pm and 2:30pm every afternoon. Will only falls asleep a couple of times a week (he still needs one or two naps each week to "catch up" on sleep), and on the other five days he starts coming out of his room, asking if he can watch cartoons, have a snack, or do absolutely anything at all except sleep, about 30 minutes after he went in. Whether or not I let him get up depends on what I'm working on and my mood that day, but more and more I'm giving in to his requests to skip sleep. I require, however, that he play BY HIMSELF until the time frame for nap is over, because nap time is when I tackle everything that needs to be done but can't be done with kids around. Will usually follows this rule pretty nicely, so I'm not all that distressed about his nap situation.

When Will was Hallie's age he napped every afternoon for at least two full hours. A couple of times a week he'd sleep for three hours. And while we had to teach him to nap when he was a baby and went through one short nap protest stage when he was three, nap time for Will has been, for the most part, smooth sailing. On the hand, Hallie didn't need to be taught how to nap (or how to sleep at night, at least at first) - she knew what to do from the get-go. I should have recognized that early cooperativeness as a sign she would someday turn on me when it came to sleep...

Hallie fights nap and bed time every single day (I have some great stories about Tom and me trying to get her to bed at night, but I'll save those for another day/post), and completely avoids nap time sleep at least twice a week. Instead, after arguing with me for 20 minutes, yelling at me for 10 minutes, and crying for me for 10 minutes, she finally gives in reads/destroys books, makes up her own songs, and plays with her stuffed animals and dolls. One afternoon I heard quite a bit of conversation coming from her room so I grabbed my camera and snuck in.

Enjoying tea with Knuffle Bunny while sitting in her
American Girl DOLL chairs.  She has a really small butt.
"Hi Mom!"
The funniest thing about these pictures isn't that she's sitting in DOLL chairs, having a tea party with a bunny while she's supposed to be napping.  It's that when she went down for nap she was wearing an entirely different outfit.

The other activity Hallie engages in when she's not interested in sleeping is changing her clothes.  She'll start off wearing a cute and well-coordinated outfit and end up wearing red striped tights, blue polka dot socks (over the tights), teal and brown flowered mary janes, an undershirt, and a hot pink flowered sundress.  And to get finally land on this BEE-EEE-U-TIFUL outfit, she tried on everything in her dresser and left it on the floor of her bedroom.

So nap time isn't what it used to be.  I miss the days when 1:30pm meant a guaranteed two hours of "me time" 1:30pm just guarantees the beginning of nap time battles and the countdown to when I'll have to refold every single pair of Hallie's leggings.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Not to Be Outdone

Will has a tough time whenever Hallie has or is part of a fun experience either on her own - or with me and/or Tom - but without him. Every month, when it comes time for me to film Hallie singing the current month-of-the-year song, Will begs to sing with her. I let him sing along ONCE, when Hallie had a rough time getting started, but otherwise I've decided that the monthly singing performances are Hallie's gig.

A couple of weeks ago, in order to keep Will from photo bombing Hallie's "March" performance, I told him I'd film him singing a song of his choosing as soon as I finished filming Hallie. He chose "Who is the King of the Jungle", a catchy little number they sing during Chapel at school, and fittingly gave his performance wearing his jungle/rain forest safari hat.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Wish

My little girl turns three today. Three.

How did we get here? There are no babies in my house. There are no toddlers in my house. There are no bottles, bibs, or highchairs in my kitchen. There are no pacifiers, mobiles, or cribs in the bedrooms. And there are no playmats, exersaucers, or bumbos in my living room.

Instead, there are children making their own breakfasts in my kitchen. There are children READING books in their bedrooms. And there are action figures, Legos, and dollhouses in my living room.

My YOUNGEST child is a three-going-on-13 year-old preschooler.

This last year has been one of milestones for Hallie: she graduated from a crib to a big girl bed, started preschool, traded her suckers to the Sucker Fairy for a pink jump rope, and basically potty trained herself. (After I tried for months to potty train her, she pretty much decided one Friday morning that she would DO IT ALL BY HER BIG GIRL SELF that day).

Hallie loves absolutely anything pink; pretty dresses and shoes; preschool; Hello Kitty, Minnie Mouse, princesses, and ballerinas; picking flowers; Sesame Street; and coloring, painting, and covering any and all surfaces with stickers. Oh, and antagonizing her brother. That might be her favorite thing of all.

My little spitfire is ridiculously stubborn and spicy, but she's also extremely outgoing, enthusiastic, diplomatic, and organized. Even at just three years old she is confident in who she is, knows where she's going, and refuses to live her life in anyone's shadow. She was born with a flare for the dramatic and a song in her heart. A very LOUD song.

It doesn't seem possible, but Hallie simultaneously makes my heart swell with love and pride, drives me to the brink of insanity, and scares the crap out of me.

One of Hallie's favorite songs is "My Wish", by the Rascal Flatts. She knows all of the words, and sings along at the top of her lungs whenever the song comes on the radio or we play the CD in the car.

I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
And each road lead you where you want to go.
And if you're faced with the choice and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one who means the most to you.

And if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walkin' 'til you find a window.
If it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile.

I hope you never look back but you never forget
All the ones who love you and the place you left.
I hope you always forgive and you never regret
And you help somebody every chance you get.

I hope you'd find God's grace in every mistake and always give more than you take.
But more than anything, more than anything...

My wish for you is that your life becomes all that you want it to.
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small.
You never need to carry more than you can hold.
And while you're out there gettin' where you're gettin' to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too.
This is my wish.

I couldn't have said it any better, my lovely girl. May you always walk with the same purpose and confidence that you do today, and know that should you stumble, I will be there to pull you to your feet.

Happy birthday, Hallie Claire.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Welcome Visitor

Last year we welcomed visitors - primarily family - every month and a half or so, but this year our first visitor didn't arrive until March 12th.  Thank goodness Grandma Brenda got here when she did, because we were starting to get lonely down here!  (We're actually not lonely at all, but we miss our families and are always glad when they come to visit.)

It was a perfect week for Grandma to visit - Tom was out of town at a conference and the kids were on spring break.  Extra adult hands are always appreciated whenever Tom is out of town and/or the kids are out of school, and extra adult hands are ESPECIALLY appreciated when those two scenarios overlap.

We went out to eat a few times, did a little shopping, saw The Lorax in the theater, played at the park, and completed a couple of projects around the house (we completely made over the laundry room, painted the half bathroom, and painted a red accent wall - red accent walls are apparently "my thing" when it comes to decorating - in the living room).

Grandma bought a dollhouse (at Cracker Barrel, of all places) for Hallie...
...and a ball/sling shot game (also from Cracker Barrel) for Will.
And then Will slung the balls onto the roof and
Grandma had to go after them.  What a trooper!
One of our projects was painting one wall in our living
room red.  We let Will help.  (Risky, I know, but with
very close supervision he did alright.)
We also celebrated Grandma's birthday with decorations, gifts, party favors, and a made-from-scratch (crust, filling, AND whipped cream) banana cream pie.  I think the sweetest part of Grandma's birthday had nothing to do with the decorations the kids made, the party favors the kids and I made, the gifts we bought, or the pie though; it had to do with my dad (Grandpa).  Every year my dad buys and writes in/signs 10 or so birthday cards for mom and then hides them around the house for her to find throughout the day.  Since he couldn't be with her on her birthday this year, he FedExed the cards to me the day before my mom's birthday and asked me to hide them throughout my house.  During the day she was surprised and happy to find cards from my dad in her suitcase, the bathroom cabinet near her toothbrush, in the freezer, in the cabinet next to the peanut butter, in the Chariot stroller, in the front seat of the car, and underneath her piece of banana cream pie.  Their romance makes me smile.

The kids' homemade birthday banner for Grandma.
Listening to Grandma read aloud her cards from Grandpa.
Helping Grandma open her presents.
Birthday dinner at The Olive Garden - there was
something really interesting off to Will and Hallie's
left that they wouldn't stop looking at.
This is how Grandma got them to look straight ahead.
Grandma and her banana cream pie,
topped with fresh flowers from our yard.
Waiting for the song to be over so she could blow out
her candle, which almost lit the flowers on fire.
Next up on the visitor list is Aunt Sara, Uncle Jeff, and cousin Lily at the end of March/beginning of April, and then a week after they leave Tom's parents will be here for a long weekend.  I expect my parents will be back in May, and then after that we start our crazy summer of right now we have Nebraska in late May/early June, Illinois in June, Wisconsin in July, and Michigan (and maybe Arkansas) in August on the calendar.  Whew!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spirit Day

I subbed at the kids' school on Team Spirit Day - Hallie and I wore our Aggie gear, but Will opted for his Hawkeye t-shirt and face tattoos. As you can imagine, school was pretty much Aggie-central that day, so Will was pleased that he stood out in support of his Iowa Hawkeyes.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

We don't really have any solid St. Patrick's Day traditions - it seems like St. Patrick's Day sneaks up on me every year, so our activities surrounding the holiday are kind of haphazard and inconsistent.  At least we remembered to wear green!  (But we forgot to take a picture of all of us in our green.)

The kids wanted to make party favors for Grandma's birthday party (which we held on her birthday, March 14th), so I offered them a couple of choices that had to do with St. Patrick's Day in hopes we could make extras and do something fun with them after the party.  They chose to make these:

We started with mini terra cotta flower pots, painted them black, super glued rainbow pipe cleaners inside of them, and then filled them with Rolos.  It was a fun project, except for the super glue step.  I had a purple pipe cleaner stuck to my right index finger for like 20 minutes one evening.

After Grandma's party, Will decided he wanted to give one to his friend Natalie (Hallie and Natalie's little sister, Caroline, are in the same class at school and have become friends; luckily for me and their mom, Erin, Will and Natalie get along wonderfully and seem to really enjoy playing together).  After our Valentine's Day drop offs, Will's been really into door bell ditching, so we door bell ditched Natalie's pot of gold on her doorstep the afternoon before St. Patrick's Day.

The other remaining pots of gold went to Logan, Miss Holly, Miss Andrea, and Miss Andrea's daughter, McKenna.  Hallie loves her teachers, and wants to give them pretty much everything we ever make at home.  One afternoon she picked a bunch of weeds (they looked like flowers to her but were in fact weeds) and then made me keep them alive overnight so she could take bouquets to Holly and Andrea the following morning.

On St. Patrick's Day I tried a new recipe - key lime cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  They were amazing!  Or at least everyone but Will thought so.

Happy belated St. Patrick's Day from Erin Leigh!