Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sweet Summer

It's July already, which means that August is almost 6.
Which means that summer is well under way.

Are you kidding me, Mom?
Hey Mom, check out my Mungies. (Male Hungies)

Is it ok that I said that?

Of COURSE it is! Cause I'm Wyeth and I'm awesome!

Summers don't feel the way they used to...I think that could be because of two things:

1) I'm experiencing summers as a mom, not as a kid; and
2) I'm working a lot from home right now, so even though there's technically nothing we have to accomplish, I always feel like there's something I could/should/need to be doing.

Dorien tries out what it feels like to put his head in a box.
Plus, we had several weeks here where strep throat ran around the family. August to Brooklyn back to August then to me. I think we're finally all clear. 

August naps on the clean laundry pile.
Wyeth is 9 months now and in a state of accelerated development. 

He started crawling one day and then immediately began pulling up on furniture. Then he decided to try his hand at climbing stairs. He's pretty good at it. He also sprouted three new top teeth just in the last 7 days. 

That was a real blast, let me tell you.
He's also getting into the whole stranger anxiety thing, where he no longer wants to leave me. Ever.
And his hair is growing all the sudden and it's as white as can be. And his eyes are bluer than ever.

He's beautiful. He's also into everything he shouldn't be. 
Give him a toy and he'll crawl over and pull all the paper out of the printer.   
Give him something to chew on and he'll toss it aside to go after the computer wires. 

Or he'll gnaw on the furniture.
Put him on the kitchen floor with some tupperware bowls and he'll crawl straight for Singer's dog bone and a big hair ball. Put him down and he wants up. Hold him and he'll twist into a position making him unholdable. 

Oh, you saw that?
He and I just did a Mommy and Me swimming class today at our gym. That was actually pretty interesting. We worked on lots of things like blowing bubbles, kicking, turning from front to back, floating with support from me, singing "The Wheels on the Bus..." but inserting all sorts of swimming motions, and a little bit of going under the water. He did really well! Much better than some 2 year olds who were in the class.

Bedtime and a book to eat.
I feel like swimming should come natural to him since "we" swam my entire pregnancy. He does seem to enjoy the water, so now it's just a matter of fostering that enjoyment!  

August sleeping in the clean laundry pile. Again. I really should fold that stuff.
August has developed a love for tennis recently, thanks to a week long tennis camp he attended. His teacher said he had a lot of potential, and since August is really excited about it, I think we're gonna do lessons one day a week. 

Final day of swim lessons and a visit from the Chick-Fil-A cow - who jumped off the diving board!
 Tennis is something I can get behind. One of my favorite sports. I love the individuality of it and that you can play it your whole life. I love that there is so much mental about it, as well as physical.

Brooklyn wavered back and forth between being interested and not, and landed on the not category. We'll see. I'm hoping she changes her mind at some point. No pressure. 

August in blue to the left.
I am still convinced that there is a way to maneuver through childhood without spending all your free time involved in some sort of organized sport or activity. 

Cheering on the US during the World Cup!
Meanwhile, she draws constantly and reads and creates plays and dramas and keeps me laughing and entertained.

My increasingly crowded dining room. Wood, toys and Rene's bags.
 And the kitchen renovation has a start date! The floors will be laid the 24th-25th of July, which means that Kyle and I will spend the early part of that week removing the tiles, getting the toilet and sink out of the bathroom, removing the furniture and getting the old appliances out.  We picked up the wood on Monday, and the boxes are currently sitting in our dining room, open, so the wood can acclimate to the humidity levels in our house for a few weeks. More on that as it develops.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


The arrival of big equipment or tree removal guys is a good reason 
to sit in the middle of the yard and just watch.

Dorien loves to pretend to go to work. With his vintage Samsonite suitcase and a clip-on tie.
I like how he coordinated his tie with both his shirt and pants.

August went for more of a mixed pattern look. These boys give me such joy.

An over-the-shoulder shot of Wyeth.

Dorien slept in the same position so long during his nap one day that he left a perfect handprint, including the wrinkles of his knuckles and his fingernails on his cheek. Amazing. I don't often see that. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Science in Life

Towards the end of April, right as the foliage on our back deck was really exploding, I happened to notice a dove sitting on a nest that she'd just built. This was a first for us. There is almost always a pair of doves that hangs around our back deck, but they'd never built a nest there before. When I noticed she'd flown away, I stepped outside to peer into her nest and noticed a single, perfect, creamy egg. 

About an hour later, Kyle walked out there and there was a second egg! The kids and I thought this was a special treat bestowed on us by the dove couple. We had the honor of being able to have a front-seat (or back seat, if you prefer) view of a nesting/baby dove cycle. 

Having no idea what to expect time-wise, I did a little research and found that once laid, dove eggs take about 14 days to hatch. We marked the 14 day mark on our calendar and went about with our business. We all agreed to leave our back deck alone during the period that Momma Dove was out there with her babies. It just seemed the right thing to do.

We peered at her from our French door windows, and she peered right back with her black eyes. She didn't seem alarmed by our faces smushed against the windows, but we did leave her alone. Daddy dove visited her often, and very rarely, she'd fly off for a break. She reminded me of Horton, diligently sitting on his egg.

Around the 14 day mark, I noticed a stirring in the nest. Baby #1 hatched! Momma Dove was actively engaged in taking care of her little one, as we watched from our window with GREAT excitement.
A few hours later, Baby #2 hatched as well. They stayed mostly buried under Momma Dove's plumage. Every now and then a little head would pop up, looking incredibly delicate.  Momma would crane her body back and do the feeding/upchuck dance into her baby birds' mouths. It was truly amazing.

Apparently, it takes about another 2 more weeks before the baby birds are ready to leave the nest. We watched them every day - getting a little bigger and a little bigger. They grew feathers and started looking pretty fluffy. Momma Dove began flying off more frequently and then returning to do her upchuck dance. It sounds gross, but it was really quite beautiful. She was such a faithful mother. So attentive!

One day we noticed that she was gone most of the day. We were worried until we realized her babies were simply too big for all three of them to fit in the nest anymore. Periodically she would fly back and perch on a branch and feed them. Then she'd fly off again.  The babies got braver and started fluffing up their wings. All the while, my kids and I watched through our window at this little miracle of nature God was letting us view.

Then, one day...the nest was empty. We were so excited. And a little sad.

Until we noticed the baby doves hanging around the back railing with their Momma.  In the picture above, the baby is the one under the railing. They were considerably smaller than their Momma, but still looked sleek and flight-ready. 

We watched them get their bearings for several days. We'd leave them little saucers of dove bird food just as a treat. Eventually they stopped being recognizable as baby doves. We still see doves flying about, so I'm assuming it's a member of our little dove family, but I can't tell which.

It was such a neat experience to have this little family hatch before our very eyes. 
It was something none of us will forget. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hello Again

It's a really good thing I don't blog for money. 
Because the past few months, I've been so busy that even blogging as a personal online journal or a record of our lives has been too difficult. 

That doesn't mean that I don't find myself writing blog posts in my head as my daily events unfold. I bet I'm not the only blogger who does this, either. Kinda like seeing life in soundbites.

The past two months have been full of living, my friends.

During April and May we completed our homeschool year. Brooklyn finished 2nd grade, and August finished 1st grade. During the final weeks of school, I also managed to evaluate and order all our homeschool curriculum for this next year, and even clear space in my bookshelf for all our new books!

We didn't quite finish up our math books, so we're doing a little on those each day, but it rarely takes more than half an hour. They don't seem to mind. They've sailed through fractions, telling time, volume and capacity, this week it's graphing and next week it's area, I think.  

Rene, our precious Rwandan, graduated from Hendrix - Summa Cum Laude with a physics degree.
He was accepted to several grad school programs around the country, and has chosen to attend the University of Colorado in Boulder where he'll be getting a combo Master/PhD in Electrical Engineering, I think. Some type of engineering. I should know this.

He's currently back in Rwanda visiting his sister and brother for a month before settling one again in the US.
We attended his graduation, and I could not have been more proud of him.
When we volunteered to host a Rwandan 4 years ago, we could never have known how blessed we'd be by that decision, or how much we'd love our "student." Rene is an older brother to my children and a friend/oldest child to me and Kyle. At a post-graduation luncheon for the Rwandan students, Rene was giving a little talk (all the graduation seniors did) and he said that he simply refers to me and Kyle as his Mom and Dad. That's how special we were to him. I cried a little.

Lately, I've been doing lots of work for DD&F, the bank consulting firm I worked for full time for 7 years before I had Brooklyn. I gotta tell you. I love working. I really do. As many of you know, I loved my job, and while I believe 1000% that it was God's best plan for me to step away from working full time at DD&F to raise Brooklyn (and our subsequent children), it was certainly not an easy thing for me to do. Not everyone really loves their job, but I really did love mine. I love the mental stimulation and the challenge of learning new things and being really good at something. I loved it.  

Yes, I traded one job for another. No doubt about that. But as my mom will attest to, there are very few pats on the back from your toddlers. And even fewer paychecks that come your way from them. Plenty of conflict resolution, plenty of tidying up the "workspace", plenty of food service opportunities. I'm not complaining, I love being a mom. It's just really lovely right now to be able to use some other skills as well. 

In the time since I last posted, Wyeth sprouted 3 teeth, hit the 8 month mark, the 20lb weight mark and started crawling. The crawling really just started in the last two weeks. And he's also now pulling up on the furniture.  He's turning out to be a little towhead, and his eyes are still a beautiful blue. 

Brooklyn and August have been taking swimming lessons daily for the past two weeks, and have made dramatic improvements. They can actually swim, dare I say it. And today, August jumped off the high dive for the first time! I was so impressed. I know that standing up on the high dive seems like you're a mile over the water. He approached it the best way - never gave himself a moment to doubt. He just climbed up and walked right off the edge. So brave.

It didn't hurt that he had a little friend, Maggie, who is smaller than him and totally fearless. She did it, so if she did, then he could too. I was so proud.

Brooklyn is jumping off the low dive, but has yet to climb that high ladder.

Another big thing I've been working on is planning a kitchen renovation. (My kitchen was last updated in 1994. It's due for a facelift). Nothing has officially begun, yet. It takes a lot of planning. And research. 

And since it also requires a hefty amount of money, our reno will happen in stages.
First stage - replacing all my appliances (fridge, slide in oven range, wall oven/microwave combo, dishwasher). Got them all picked out, just haven't ordered yet. Because the really first step is replacing all the tile in my kitchen/bathroom/breakfast room with hardwood floors. So, I'm waiting on a final quote before kicking off that process.

Stage 2 - Repaint kitchen and remove some upper cabinet doors and make some open shelving.
Stage 3 - Replace all the cabinet doors/drawers and paint them.
Stage 4  - Remove tile countertops and backsplash and replace with marble countertops and subway tile backsplash.
Stage 5 - new lighting.

It takes a while to get all the ducks in a row and then moving, so that's what I've been doing.

Kyle's been busy prepping for the World Cup - US Soccer is one of his company's clients, so he's been to Chicago a lot and has been doing lots of work from home, too. Now that the World Cup has kicked off, he's got lots to keep him busy, but he loves it. He is crazy about soccer. And he's currently in Napa, CA for 4 days working on some stuff. It's an intensive work setting at this amazing house in a vineyard with a private chef. But they really are working like crazy. I hope.

Kyle and I have also both been working hard to get back into shape. We're following a program set out in the book, Racing Weight. I'm prepping to do some triathlons, hopefully, so I'm doing lots of running, swimming and cycling, and Kyle is just cycling.  I'm also planning to run a marathon this next year, so I've been reading up on that. It's funny because Kyle and I are both doing a 4 week "Quick Start" to speed up the process of lowering our body fat percentage, and he gets a rest day each week as part of his cycling program. I, on the other hand, am supposed to work out 7 days/week for 4 weeks. Something about that doesn't seem quite fair. But I won't lie - it's pretty fun. I love the challenge.

So that's what our lives have been full of the past 2 months.
I'm hoping to catch up on a backload of pictures that I've been wanting to upload, so stay tuned.
Meanwhile, I hope you're making the most of your summer break!