Around here

Thinking of the girls:

Anna is doing beautifully since visiting a therapist these last several weeks. She definitely seems more in control of herself and we've been able to soften the iron fist a bit. She is so creative and very, very into Star Wars at the moment. Our whole dinnertime conversation was about which movie covered which characters and who died when and who Luke's father really is, etc. Matt was even a bit overwhelmed, trying to remember all these details. I am positive that he was the same as a child! I told him that he encourages the children to ask questions and he provides them with long, involved answers - so this is what he gets now!

Claire has changed dramatically in the last month. She can play harder and rougher. She can tell you what she wants and will refuse to compromise or give on it. She has so much fun playing Clone Wars/Star Wars with the bigger neighbor kids and is not intimidated or scared by their rough play. She is sweet and generous with Katherine and works hard to include her. I am getting to know her better - she loves to play games, work on crafts and pretend!

Katherine is so funny - she figured out how to run around and thinks it is hilarious. She is talking like crazy - ready to say anything. Today's word is "duck" and then followed by "quack, quack". She is totally infatuated with her blankie - saying "mine" and "blankie" often and loudly. She says "Claire" very well but still seems to call Anna Daddy. We're not sure why.

Now today I will organize the toys - throw out the junk ones, store the ones the kids are tired of, and just clean!

I desperately looked for a way to head to Colorado for part of Spring break next week - but, alas, there are just too many of us! Maybe we'll get some sunshine.


The Dells

The Wisconsin Dells. "The Waterpark Capital of the World."

We had such a great time! It was completely family friendly and we spent our one night in a very expansive, beautiful condo complete with an onsite waterpark.

It was just a short drive to the resort's other waterparks. We enjoyed Klondike Kavern, the Wild Wild West and an inside dry play fort. The kids weren't ready for the big slides but we did go down all the smaller, still exciting water slides, walked through waterfalls, got splashed and enjoyed playing mermaids in the wave pool. It was loud and a bit crazy but everyone had a great time.

Katherine was content to go up and down some small steps, take one ride down the lazy river with Mommy and get splashed in the face by some erupting water fountains. Matt spent a lot of time sitting with her while she did things over and over and over.

We did not take our camera to the waterparks but we did get some photos of the room and the beautiful lake outside our balcony.


St. Patricks Day

We were treated with superb weather on St. Patty's and so we took full advantage! We ate out on the back porch with our makeshift table setup. I "wowed" the kids by putting a drop of food coloring in their glasses before pouring the water. Matt was not as entertained when I poured his green beer. I thought it was delightful!

That night was Claire's night to help (the girls have been earning special help-with-dinner nights by showing good behavior) and she set the tables all by herself. She was so proud of herself and it looked so beautiful!

Here are some pics from our fun dinner.


Claire's 5th Birthday

Wow, 5 years since my little Clairey appeared. She is so precious to us.

We adore her perseverance and her loving and kind heart. She is stubborn, silly, prone to outbursts, easily distracted and just adorable.

We had a Fairy Tea Party for her birthday. She also wanted unicorns included (just like we tried last year) but this proved too hard to do. She invited some friends from school and a close family friend. The party was so wonderful, the whole day was wonderful!

She started her day with some presents (we open presents in the morning around here) and then had her party at 11am. She then played outside with friends in the beautiful sunny warm weather. After so much fun Anna left for a pool party and Claire got one-on-one time just with Mommy. We had so much fun playing Pollys, her new Princess and the Pea game and beads.

We finished the day with her birthday dinner choice of mac-n-cheese (we added some Organic Chicken brats for those who don't like mac-n-cheese - the grownups) and American Idol.

Fun fun fun.

Here are the pics:


Like a Vase of Flowers

Last night Claire was in one of those moods. She sulked and pouted. She talked back and was rude. She even hauled off and slugged her sister. This sort of behavior is very rare for Claire, and I'm not used to it at all.

By bedtime she had worn every one of my nerves thin. She whined and argued and fought the entire time I prepared her for bed. Finally, in exasperation, I yelled at Claire.

Claire was shocked. For a moment she just stared at me. Then she completely fell apart. She started sobbing uncontrollably. I left her alone, her face buried in her pillow. Anna was still up, and I figured I'd better get her tucked in while both Claire and I cooled off.

As I pulled Anna's blanket up to tuck her in, Anna said to me, "You know, Dad, you probably shouldn't have yelled at Claire. She's like a vase of flowers. They're fragile. You have to be careful with them."

I smiled at Anna and gave her a goodnight kiss.


Possesives and Negatives

Since my last post about Katherine, she has mastered the possessive.

"My cup"

"That is mine"

"Daddy's shoes"

She has also mastered at least the negative form of question answering. That's right -- the infamous "no" has taken center stage in Katherine's vocabulary. To what extent has "no" taken root in her vocabulary? Ask her a yes/no question and you will get one of two answers:



"No... mmmmm... yes." (Sometimes shortened to "no-yes." Example: "Katherine, would you like a cookie?" "No-yes.")

After a while, you get used to the constant divvying up of everything into "mine", "daddies", "M'na's" (M'na is Anna, Care is Claire). And the "no-yes" becomes so familiar you find yourself saying it, as well.

But when Angie went to give me a hug the other night, Katherine surprised us with this one:

"NO! Daddy is MINE!"

Listening Walk

Claire has fallen in love with a book we recently checked out from the library. The book, called Listening Walk, is the story of a little girl who goes on a walk with her dad and her dog. On the walk, no talking is allowed. Only listening. As the story progresses, the girl describes the sounds she hears. Claire loves the onomatopoeia in the book, and all of the rat-tat-tat-tats and thhhhmmmms and brrrrmmmms are good phonic practice for her.

When I asked Claire what she wanted to do over the weekend, she enthusiastically suggested that we go on a listening walk. So on this sunny Sunday afternoon, we left a sleeping baby and an exhausted mommy at home, and Anna, Claire, and I headed in the direction of the forest preserve.

The forest preserve is three-and-a-half blocks from our front door. That makes it a seven block round trip. Wanna guess how long the "listening" part of the listening walk lasted? If you guessed less than a half of a block, you are correct. We made it about fifteen paces before Anna said, "I'd really prefer to talk as we go" -- a suggestion quickly seconded by Claire.

I had no qualms with the revised "talking walk" plan. Why pass up a chance to talk to the kids?

So the girls trotted along, chattering about school, Star Wars, sticks, Angelina Ballerina, houses, stinky cheese, dessert, and (oddly enough) listening walks. I mostly listened.

As we neared the forest preserve, though, the girls became oddly conspiratorial. Since the walk had initially been suggested, the girls had talked and talked about wanting to go to the forest preserve. But as soon as it was in sight, I caught snippets of whisperings like this:

"How many paths are there?"

"Which one is the fast way out?"

"I think it's the first one... or the second one. But don't tell Dad."

Once we were in the preserve, the girls became noticeably impatient. I tried to coax them into tip-toeing in and listening for deer. They would have none of that. I attempted to stop them and point out wood peckers and squirrels. They barely listened. And with each fork in the path, they became noticeably consternated.

As I meandered along the winding paths, the girls would continually run ahead, and then dart back, telling me to turn around and head back to the last fork in the path. After three false starts, the girls finally found their bearings and with giddy glee galloped off. I followed, and as I rounded the final bend in the path, I understood.

There was the playground. Okay, three playgrounds. The nature preserve was nice and all... but it was the giant paradise of colorful steel and plastic that my children were after.

The girls climbed towers, scooted down slides, swung on swings, and gingerly crossed balance beams. We hit every one of the three playgrounds. Walls were scaled. Springs were sprung. Surprisingly, no bones were snapped.

On the way home, the girls busied themselves choosing "light sabers" from the jetsam of gardening stakes and fallen branches piled in alleys along our route.

Again, I did my best at just listening. And all I heard were happy tones.

In my mind, that's a successful listening walk.
(More pictures)

Weekend blessings

I just adore my kids.

And I adore my husband for taking them on a long "listening walk" while Katherine naps.

This is especially needed after our super fun, busy day yesterday. We started the day with a trip to Anna's school for the Kingsley Carnival. After some cotton candy and lots of prizes we headed out to the playground to enjoy the sunshine!

Note: Katherine is wearing her "wunkey". It has a long tail for the parent to hold onto so she can't get too far away. It was very useful inside the school and she just loves to wear it anyways.


What Kids Say

Sometimes kids say the funniest things.

Do birds lay crayons?

The other day, Claire asked me, "Dad, can I get a clutch of crayons?" A clutch of crayons? I wish I knew where she learned that term, though I'm sure the association has to do with clutching one's fist.

Getting Possesive

Katherine is verbalizing more and more.

Katherine points to her cup of water: "Mine!"
Katherine points to my glass of water: "Daddy-mine!"

What an interesting way to form possessives. Tonight at dinner, she asked for some "Busho." I told her I didn't know what that was. She pointed to the piece of pizza in my hand and said "Daddy busho." Phonetics is not her strong suite.

The Tooth Fairy cometh... or not

Anna lost a tooth yesterday. She put the tooth under her pillow, but the "tooth fairy" forgot about it. Anna, the early riser, was up at the crack of dawn. She came into our room, woke me up, and said, "Dad, the tooth fairy didn't come last night." I listed off a litany of excuses on behalf of the doubtlessly beleaguered fairy, but Anna was not impressed.

Fortunately, Claire is a late sleeper. When she woke up an hour later, she found a note under her pillow: "Where's the tooth?" Anna was relieved. The tooth fairy just got the wrong bed.

Tonight there's a note under Claire's pillow. It says:

Dear Tooth Fairy,

My sister is in the other room. She lost the tooth.

Please leave me candy.


I guess they learn quickly.... though why the Tooth Fairy would leave candy is anyone's guess.

On a final tooth fairy note, a friend of mine told me this story.

His son, Timmy, is best friends with John. At school the other day, John lost his tooth. That night, as he settled into bed, he tucked the tooth under his pillow. "Mom," he said, "Don't forget to leave the front door open."

His mother, confused, asked why.

"Because Timmy's mom needs to come in and trade my tooth for a quarter."

Tea Party

Katherine and Claire set up a tea party for their dolls. Later, while Claire was doing something else, Katherine played tea party all by herself, carefully pouring drinks for her babies and making a "pssh" sound as she did it.

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Mid-March 2009

Claire is getting the invitations ready for her party!

The girls love our "balance board". Our friend Joline even taught Katherine!

This child is so adorable and so adored by us all.



There have been challenges with raising our kids - some harder than others. We are all growing and learning from this.

We are working to encourage the good more at our house. It is surprisingly challenging to remember to say "Great job!" or "You are so creative when you color on the walls!", etc. It doesn't mean there are no consequences for bad behavior but that there are also consequences for good behavior.

Yesterday was such a good day for Anna - not a perfect day, but a good one. And she needs affirmation that good days are great! She also needs to know that a good day is not a day where she was perfectly nice all the time.

So, as I was affirming her last night, working hard to let her know how great she was to Claire, how kind and considerate and then pointing out how great that made Claire feel too, she said the cutest thing:

"Mom, I feel so great, it's like I'm one of the top 12 finalists for American Idol!"

My heartstrings were definitely pulled.


American Idol night

We had an All Girls American Idol night.

Thanks to Becky for the great idea - they have all family American Idol nights!

Claire was a little confused about what American I-doll was. In the middle she asked, "Where are all the American Girl dolls?"

Each contestant was first evaluated for looks - being a boy of course counted double against them. Being a boy with earrings and a headband really brought your approval rating down. Being a pretty girl with a sparkly or brightly colored dress counted for bonus points!

I could tell they were missing their favorite man when Claire said, "I hope Daddy is watching American Idol too." It was fun. We started late so I could fast forward through all the commercials - I love DVR - and then ended right at 9pm.

A little late for a school night but, fun! And now Anna can agree with all of America - Simon is just so mean!

We finished with a special 5 minute snuggle in Mommy and Daddy's bed. This sounds cuter than it actually was. It actually involved much flatulence, giggling, tickling, poking and kicking. All done in love of course.

It was a good night - except for missing Daddy.

Butcher split

We love slideshows!

Okay - Matt left today (actually he just hopped in the limo a few moments ago) for D.C. for Drupalcon. These Drupal developers just love to have conferences!

He's going to keep a photostream updated throughout the week for us here at home and any other friends and family. And I am so computer-savvy - I put a link to it on our blog!

Sometimes technology actually works!



A space for All

We've created a blog for our whole family. You can look forward to posts from Matt and Angie both and more interesting reading for sure!

We'll also try to keep pictures updated on the page.