Friday, December 31, 2010

Willa Awesomeness

A week ago a friend who has a daughter about the same age as ours shared that watching his daughter start to put letters together to read words was cooler than watching her learn to walk.

Tonight, I was taking Willa upstairs to tuck her in. On the wall up the stairs we keep the signs we hang on our front door for every holiday. Our Valentine's Day sign is a word with a bunch of wooden hearts around it. She stopped walking and pointed, "mom! That says love! l-o-v-e spells love."

In print, she recognizes her name and Henry's. She knows mom and dad. And maybe a few others. But this was her first non-prompted work, in my book. Look at her read! And what a sweet first step.

Dear 2010,

It is New Year's Eve. We just finished a dinner of Beach Bar Tomato Soup and garlic bread. Our family, over the last year, has started to pray before dinner. We hold hands, and thank God for specific things, and sometimes ask for a little bit of help. Tonight I got choked up when it was my turn. I was following Henry, who thanked God "for beautiful friends, and beautiful family, and uh.... beautiful windows, and... what are those?" Blinds. Beautiful Blinds. And after he finally said amen, it was my turn.
What a year. What a beautiful/challenging/growing/pull my hair out/weep with gratitude year.
Willa has grown 5 shoe sizes, and is growing into such a compassionate kid. Henry has gone from a few words to speaking in paragraphs and (no boasting here) actually pausing to consider verb tenses.
Jim is nearly done with his Masters degree. We have grown together this year, forming a tighter partnership, a better love. We're working together to sell this house.* We're working together to increase patience and have more fun.
I have have moments in my day that make me want to send a thank you letter to my former employer for letting me go. This is a pretty good gig, and I wish I didn't have to continue to search out what's next. Being at home with the kids for more than a year now has let me fill up my memory tanks with intense love, and I can't even write about it.

Dear 2010, thank you.

Friends and family who peek in here occasionally, thanks for your selfness. Camp Sinki wishes you much love and peace in the next year.

For the first time tonight, both Jim and I were completely content being home with no plans on New Year's Eve. So nice to be there.

*Oh, our beautiful inadequate house. I can't bear to take the Christmas tree, knowing that we'd like this to be our last Christmas in the house. I mourn the anticipation, and yet can't wait to see what's next.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Willa finds out

Uncle Bill and Aunt Jackie called us a while ago with big news. I let Bill tell his niece if Ben was going to have a brother or sister. Watch her face after she says, "what?" That's when Bill shares...

it's a girl. She's pretty excited.

Again, sorry about the sideways video. I have started to record only in landscape. I've been holding on to this to be sure that Bill and Jackie have shared the news with their peeps first.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Willa shares and there's some music

The most amazing thing just happened...

Willa who is full "I want, I want, I want" mode just came down stairs from her room with a book in her hand.

"Here, Henry, I brought this down to give to you. It's a Harold book, and I know you like those."

I peered at her just above the laptop screen. I think my jaw had dropped.

"What? I thought he would like it, so I'm giving it to him."

I'm typing this quickly so I don't forget. It looks like the Toys for Tots shopping trip and the talks about giving really sunk in past the part of her brain that's been marinating in the toy ads that come in the newspaper and with Saturday morning cartoons.

She's "reading" it to him right now. It's hard to hear over my heart which is singing a little Handel.

Friday, December 10, 2010

House update

Just before Thanksgiving, I had had enough with our realtor. Quick summary:
August - signed contract with friendly, honest, down-to-earth realtor
September - having some connection issues with our realtor.
October - wishing the freakin' realtor would show some initiative and... call us sometime
November - cursing the day we signed with realtor. Considering taking the person who recommended her off of the Christmas card list. It really shouldn't take 5 phone calls on my part to mention that I'd like more communication (as in.. any), right?

So... I pulled out my handy binder where I've been keeping notes on stuff we like about different houses, and documentation with communication stuff. The documentation was all of 3/4 of a page long. And so...

I called her boss and let him know what a terrible job she was doing for us.

And he said, "ohmygosh! I'm sorry. Let's get you working with someone who will do a good job." He asked, and I gave him permission to share my documentation with realtor #1.
The next day she called me to say she was sorry, and to explain.

And then I was really tested because she had just been diagnosed with clinical depression. Like, Brian Wilson depression where she didn't get out of bed for two months. But now she's on meds and seeing a counselor, and would we consider giving her a second choice?

"What?!" I know that's what your mind is screaming, because that's what mine did too. I'm pretty sure she didn't hear my mind over the cell phone, though. I told her that I was very sorry that she had to go through that, that I was glad she was getting some help, and feeling better. I asked her to continue to take care of herself. I then informed her that I would not be able to give her another chance, as this is a huge deal for Jim and I, and any confidence that she had earned in the meeting and walk through of our house had been lost.

I know I did and said the right thing, but it still bothers me. A teeny percentage of me wishes I could have given her another shot. But that's not the percentage that wants/needs a house with a hall closet, a fenced in backyard, and a better school district for the youngin's.

We are now onto realtor #2 who pretty much knocked our socks (and $10,000 of the asking price) off. This woman is pretty much going to sell our house. We have it off the market for a few weeks. To give us time to celebrate Christmas in the comfort of our clutter/cookie making mess, and to let the house and our psyche rest from a little post traumatic stress caused by realtor #1.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

vocab lesson from Henry

I need to stop turning the camera for videos. Sorry.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Ramona, Willa, the blanket, and a little panic attack

Willa and I have been sailing through the Ramona books at night. We're on the third book now. The one that Ramona's mom gets a job and Beezus says, "now you get to be liberated!" and Mrs. Quimby smirks. Willa and I love Ramona and her antics. She can't wait to find out what happens next, and I can't wait to be reminded.

We were reading tonight when Jim came up to make sure I hadn't fallen asleep. It had been a particularly long (and exciting chapter - Ramona had to apologize to Susan with the boing curls for smashing her owl) and Willa's room is my favorite in the house.

So cozy.*

Anyhow, the night before Jim had given Willa an additional blanket for her bed. It happened to be the afghan that my dad had a woman make for me. It was a present for my high school graduation and had the Grand Valley logo stitched into it.
And our dogs have taken to sleeping with Willa at night. On the bed. I don't mind them sleeping with her, but dude... not on that special blanket.
So, Jim switched it for me while I was lying next to Willa in her bed - right before the Quimby's returned from Parents Night at school. He tucked us in and kissed both of our foreheads and left.
She asked why that blanket was special to me. I told her that my dad had it made for me before I moved out of their house when I was 18. That number caught in my throat. I looked at her with wide eyes. She's four. I have 14 more years. Phew... Wait! She's four and a half! Ohmygosh, she's practically gone!
I pulled her closer, kissed her forehead, and continued the rest of the chapter, getting some deep breaths in between paragraphs.
*Cozy can be yours... house on the market for 2 months. No buyer interest at all. Not worried. More later.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Family retreatlet.

November has already been a "hang onto your hat, and keep your arms in the car at all times" kind of month.
Jim is finishing his last class for his degree. On top of that, he's also completing his thesis. This means he'll be absolutely. completely. done with his Master's degree by Christmas. Ye-haw! The thesis is very time consuming. Even when he's able to spend some time away from it, his head can't quite give up a dedicated percentage. So, well... a teeny bit of strife.
We will all be very glad when he's finished. And that's not even touching on the parade throwing aspect of how awesome Jim is for getting an advanced degree.
To lessen the impact of time away, Jim brought us all with him when he had meetings in Traverse City earlier this week. We were gone all of 20 hours, but it was so nice to be away from the house. To swim with the kids. To watch them enjoy waffles with cherries and whipped cream. To not have to do the dishes from that meal. Best of all for me was the ninety minutes that Jim and I got to really talk to each other in the car while the kids slept.
But a close second was a moment in the pool.
Henry was standing at the top step, splashing the water.
"No splashing, please Henry," Jim said.
"I not splash! I am trying to get the water off of this step!"
He spent a few minutes picking water up with his hands (with great care and sincerity), pivoting, and dropping it behind him.

His self-appointed chore is a great metaphor for how our November is. I'm trying to focus on enjoying the beauty in the chaos over trying to control it.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


My mom made Henry's lion costume, isn't it great?!
I made Willa's parrot costume. Dear 2011 Jim: please don't forget our pact that you'll take me directly to a store if you see me heading to the sewing machine.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fifth Year

Five years ago, Jim and I promised each other - in front of friends and family and God and everyone - to love each other forever. To celebrate each other, and encourage each other, and just be...
And since then, there's been nothing but big ole hearts dancing in our eyes. This one goes out to you, sweetie.

defines precocious

Henry and I were hanging out, and making small talk at the Meijer Gardens turtle tank earlier this week.
"I think he poked his head outta his shell. He wants to see us, mama?"
A volunteer came out of one of the classrooms to talk to him.
"Hi, sweet little boy. Are you here to see the turtles?"
He rolled his eyes and gave her the teeniest of nods.
"How old are you?"
He laid down on his belly on the step in front of the tank.
"What's your name?"
He covered his eyes.
"Are you shy, sweetie?"
"No," he replied, "I. don't. want. to. talk. to. you."

I blushed.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall Photos

Jim took these today. Great photos, sweetie.
Feeling a little teeny bit guilty for sharing the last post. Even though he's still laughing.

Night and Day

I'm in the kitchen, frosting the cakes for today's co-birthday party for Henry and his cousin, Kenzie. I'm listening to my James Brown channel on Pandora* and Ray Charles' "Night Time is the Right Time" comes up.
Jim is in the living room, wrapping Kenzie's present, and singing along. The "BABY" part of the song happens and my darling husband says, "is that little Michael Jackson you're listening to?"
Pals, Jim is normally very musically astute,** so my eyebrows flew up and then right past my hairline. "WHAT?!"
He repeated his question.
"No, dude. The "BABY" woman was the one Ray was sleeping with in the movie, remember?"
And then said, "huh, I thought I saw Michael Jackson do that on tv once with Ray Charles."
"Uh... I think you're thinking of Rudy Huxtable."
Yup, he sure was.
We're still laughing.
Just because it's an awesome moment in my television history memory, go ahead and take 2 minutes to watch Rudy and the Huxtables .

*Pandora, an internet based "do-it-yourself" music site. Totally cool.
** Except for once when we were dating and he quoted the Paul Simon lyric as, "she brushed her hair back, and farted."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two years old

I call him Buddy and Righty and little Fella. Yesterday I called him the birthday boy.
It is such a joy to spend my days with Henry. He is such a joyful child. Everything is "awesome" or "beautiful" or "great!!" He tells jokes and loves dance parties at home. He loves singing along with Van Morrison when he sings "Domino." He counts to 23, and is quite happy surrounded by a stack of books (the Harold and the Purple Crayon books and Frog and Toad are his favorites right now). He has a temper but (lately) is willing to let us talk him down. He remembers everything, and calls the kid in his church nursery "Uncle Sam." He is a marvel.
He loves his dogs, and his sister, and his daddy.
It's been a strange year for me: not working, looking for a job, and making the most of the time I have with the kids right now. Spending that year with Henry has been a gift to me. I haven't figured out if he's my sidekick or if I'm his...
ps - note the blue guitar birthday cake: his request and the green drum set behind it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

hot and cold

Most sinks these days have one faucet. Water pressure and temperature is controlled by knobs, or a lever, or motion detection magic, but it all comes out of the same faucet.

I don't know if most sinks in the "olden days" were made like this, or if there was just one really dumb sink manufacturer a long time ago, but there are some sinks with both hot and cold knobs. And separate faucets too. Got that? Here's a visual for you:

I've found myself at one of these sinks before. I stood before it, befuddled. "How can I comfortably wash my hands here?!" Because "hot" is melt-my-skin-hot, and "cold" is ice-cubes-in-my-bloodstream cold. I kind of moved my soapy hands all over the place, sending my nervous system into input overload.

Living with a (near) two year old is much like this experience. There is no middle ground; there is no ability to mix hot and cold. The extreme nature of the two year old takes the sink metaphor and knocks it off of the wall, creating high pressured jets of water, aimed right at your face. And, yup, you've called the emergency plumber, but he can only seem to get one stream turned off at a time, and he can't help which one:
" You're the best mama. Ever." said with fluttery eyelashes, a smile, and a hug.
"I do NOT love you anymore," screamed at ear piercing volume and pitch.

... and can you live like this for oh, say... 6 or so months? Or maybe a few more years?

Thanks to Maribeth and Mia for inspiring this post. Ms. Mia just turned 2 yesterday, and her mom shared a honest and sweet little testimony of Mia's personality that got me thinking about this. Thanks also to my own crazy sink. And thanks to Microsoft Paint for allowing me to encourage the graphic artist in me.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I am you...

Late Night hosts, editorials, and media outlets are having fun with Christine O'Donnell. And yes! This TV ad is odd. Um... really odd. "I'm not a witch, and no one is perfect" doesn't seem like a really winning campaign slogan, does it?
It seems that this isn't a relevant point to make in O'Donnell's case, but, Wicca is a religion, and I'm pretty sure part of the Rules of America is that people can practice whatever dang nab religion they wish. You know... if she were in fact a witch.
O'Donnell, it seems, has lost the Wiccan vote. Look at this. (Damned if you witch, damnded if you don't, eh, Christine?).
In the end, I hope O'Donnell is just a footnote is political campaign weirdness. Because I don't want our Country to have a Senator who doesn't pay her taxes, and threatens women's rights and advancement in science and medicine. O'Donnell swears she'll follow the Constitution and not her beliefs, if elected. Hm.
Also, I'd like someone who can talk for 30 seconds and make sense. I'm not a witch... I'm you. Haven't we hand enough of the wink, smile politicians?

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Spiders and oranges

This was our craft o' the week at Camp Sinki. Thanks JoAnn Fabrics for the 40% off kit. The finished spiders are cute, and the kids love 'em.
This is very locally grown produce. My little orange tree is in production mode. The orange is the size of ornamental orange sized hail. Actually, the only thing I can think of is that it's the size of an eyeball. But that's not very appealing. Oh no! That was an unintended pun, but I'm leaving it.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Escape from the crib

Henry has learned how to climb out of his crib.
This has little impact on us at night or in the morning. He goes down for the night just fine, and doesn't get out of bed until he wakes up for the morning.
But naptime - the time that used to be the hour or sometimes 3 hours that I could count on for some quieter time - doesn't exist right now. Yesterday I scooped him and and put him in his bed approximately 482 times. It lasted 90 minutes. As a last resort, I spanked him (I am not a spanker, and was affirmed in this belief when after I spanked, he looked at me and hit me back. I had it coming). I tried snuggling, I tried firmness, I tried ignoring. There was some yelling....
Finally, he spent some quite time in mom and dad's bed watching Bear in the Big Blue house.
In the meantime, Willa was waiting for some quality mom time. I promised her I would play princesses with her after Henry was asleep. We never played.
Today we were on track for a repeat when I chose to not let it get to me. Instead, after 20 minutes, I closed his door and put both of our baby gates up on his door, one stacked on top of the other. I had essentially created a non-opening screen door for him. And then I went to do dishes.
After he played on the floor for about 10 minutes, I heard him open his door. He yelled, "NOOOOOOOOO!"
I stood at the sink giggling. Victory(ish).
He stayed in his room quietly, and I got some chores done.
I'm hoping the excitement of his new trick wears off soon, and he's back to his nap.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The end.

Sad to see the end.
Of summer.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

4.5 year old humor

Willa: Mom, where's Greta?
Me: Uh... I think she was tired of you and Henry yelling at each other, and she ran away.
Willa: [eye roll. sigh. pause] I think I'll go look for her upstairs.

10 minutes later...
Willa: Mom? Did we get a new dog?
Me: What?! No.
Willa: Come look.
Greta is laying on the floor in the living room, asleep.
Willa: Is that our new dog?
Me: huh?
Willa: You said old Greta ran away, and there's a new dog. This... [arm flourish] is new Greta.

5 minutes later...
Willa: Mom, I think we're going to call new Greta "GretB"
Me: sigh, was that Dad's idea?
Jim: cackling

She carried this on for so long with with such sincerity, I had to ask her if she knew we were just kidding. She giggled and said, "of course."

Lesson learned

Hm... so, Jim read my last blog entry over my shoulder soon after I wrote it, and he chuckled and said I was taunting fate. I rolled my eyes.

The next day I was at the doctors with an UTI. I do not get those. Ever. No problem (except the OWOWOWOWOW. OW.), I left the office with a prescription in hand, and several before class. I took the first dose just before class, and felt relief before the (awesome, exciting, informative) class was done. But what's with all the sneezes?

By the time I got home, I was in full-on cold mode, and my stomach was all goofy.

Keeping score?

Urinary Tract Infection
Probable reaction to the medicine to clear up the UTI
Midterm the next morning

Jim was right.

But the next morning Jim, the kids and I all woke up before the sun. I helped them get ready to go to a Special Olympics soccer tournament for the morning, and then got ready myself. I went to class. I was the boss of that midterm. And then I came home and slept for many, many hours.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

... and I shall receive

Ha, ha, ha... oh universe... you crafty, wacky lil' thing...

So, yesterday's post was a confession of anxiety. I recorded it here so that in three years when I'm done and have a masters and a license, I can come back here and read how I was feeling right at the start. I was nervous and scared and very much in love with the idea of starting this. Hi 2013 Amy: Good job. Hi 7 and 5 year old kids (woah...) thanks for your patience. Hi supportive, encouraging, super awesome Jim: thanks for being a partner in all of the chaos.

Anyhow today Willa was at preschool, Henry was taking his nap. I had just finished the textbook chapter on Carl Jung, and the phone rang. I then had a very exciting 30 minute phone interview for a job that was pretty much invented for me. Just when I was wrapping up, Henry woke up (very happy), and it was time to pick Willa up from school.

I've got this handled.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Back to School

Two weeks ago, I was worried.
How was I going to handle going back to school? Would it be too much stress on the family? How was I going to read a textbook that was out of print and didn't seem to really exist in the universe?
And then a friend who had this very class from the same professor lent me her book (thanks again and again, Lisa).
And then - how the heck am I going to read the assigned 12 chapters before class (in 2 days)?! And then, oh. my. gosh. how I am even going to get through this one page of this somewhat dry textbook?
Two Fridays ago, I was home with the kids. It was a beautiful day. They were full of energy, and wanted to DO SOMETHING. But I had this assignment... So, I set up painting on their picnic table on the front porch and slogged through the reading, but it seemed like they "needed" me more than usual.
I was nearly in tears. How was I going to balance home and school. And - work?! Someday I'll get a job again - how was that going to work? Suddenly I felt like I was reading a textbook from my undergraduate classes about modern women who spread themselves too thin. And then I did cry a little, but laughed too.

Then I went to class.

I'm pretty sure I love it.

Because of the difficulty of obtaining the book, nearly no one had read the assignment. Many students, including me, emailed the prof ahead of time to let him know, and he adjusted his plan for class accordingly.

It's going to be a lot to handle, but it's going to be worth it. In the future not all profs will assign 12 chapters before the class starts. And books will be easier to find. And they won't be so heavy on theory. And I can read while the kids are in the bath, and while Willa's at school and Henry's napping. When I'm back to work, I'll get lunch times. Jim gives me the extra time I need, though he's got a whopping plate too (friends, send him your "finishing your thesis" thoughts, please).

I can do this.

More importantly, I want to.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Up, and now back down

All four of us sat around a fire last night. Willa ate marshmallows. Henry played with marshmallows (hypothetical question: what's the best way to remove marshmallow from clothing?).
Jim and I caught each other eyes and smiled. There was something so serene and satisfying about watching the sycamore branches burn and offer us warmth (we needed it, it was a cold weekend up north!). It was even better to watch Henry and Willa becoming hypnotized by the flames.
Because of the cold and often wet weather, we did not do a lot of outdoor activity. But we played Memory, and cooked good meals, and read - alone and to each other. We took naps.
This afternoon, I was getting Henry down for a nap. I read him a story from our Frog and Toad anthology. He turned his back to me, backed up, snuggling in to me, and sighed. He reached up and pet my hair, and then fell asleep. Later, I woke up with our cheeks and foreheads touching, and our eyelashes intertwined (he's like his mama in eyelash length). I listened to him breathe, and watched the rain fall.
The weekend also included a small walk in the Hartwick Pines, and several jokes about how loud Willa snored on the drive up:
So loud that deer were frightened that a giant bear was coming for them.
So loud that airplanes had to land.
So loud that her body turned inside out.
So loud that whales in the bottom of the ocean thought their daddy was calling to them.

It was a lovely little getaway. The cold and rain made us all focus more on each other, rather than what else we could be doing. And I think we needed that.

Friday, September 03, 2010


When all television went from analog to digital, our digital TV sported channel 3.1 and channel 3. They were the same show, but one looked prettier and the other was about a 3 second delay. Which is annoying when scrolling through the channels. One sees the same scene twice, same dialog, same goofy expression, just a bit delayed.
Lately, Henry was been a parrot. He is the channel 3 to Willa's 3.1.
"I don't want to go home yet."
"I don't want to go home yet."
"Mom? Are we going home?"
"Mom? Are we going home?"
"Because - Henry! Cut it out! - because I don't want to."
"I don't want to."
Tonight they were setting forth their agenda of not going home while Jim had the car decidedly pointed to home.
"Too bad. You don't get a vote. We're going home."
"I getta zote, Mama?"
"Nope, you don't either, Henry. You guys are like Guam and Puerto Rico. We'll protect and defend you, we'll provide for you, we'll take care of you. But no votes."
"I vote we go somewhere that isn't home."
"Just for that, Willa, you're Guam."
"..... isn't home!"
"And you, buddy, are Puerto Rico."

The next four minutes of driving were the kids calling each other Dwawm.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

day dreaming

So there's this house... I mentioned it a few posts back. It's an updated farm house, though it's still in city limits (but in a great school district). There's a pond wayyyy down the hill. There are abandoned apple trees to the east. There's a barn.
Jim could invite his band friends there to play in the band.
The lot is big enough that we could have a few hens.
Imagine the vegetable garden! And we could plant more fruit trees. It's on 2 acres.
The inside... yup, I could see us there.

But, it's a teeny bit more than what we'd like to pay, and even though it's updated, it would likely still need some extra time, attention, and money. So, I'm telling myself awful things about the place:

-the grass isn't actually plant material, it's little green spikes of lead.
-the fireplace is full of rabid raccoons.
-the pond has a zombie graveyard nearby
-the barn is full of vipers
-the house's well is full of poison and septic backs up every 8th of the month

Monday, August 23, 2010

18% of Americans may think I'm Muslim

I haven't been very political here lately. Okay, with the exception of last week, I haven't been anything here lately. But this whole mosque at Ground Zero thing... geez.

I hope that the fact that our President said that Muslims have the right to build a mosque close to the former site of the Twin Towers in NYC continues to be a major issue in the news.

Our President. Supporting the Constitution. You know... like we hired him to do.

He didn't say it was a good idea (and I don't think it is - I don't want to watch the news on the night that it's been car bombed). He affirmed that the beliefs and right to worship of the Muslim people is as protected as any other faith in our country.

And suddenly 18% of Americans think he's Muslim. Uh... folks? Remember when we were all upset over the remarks of his former minister? Reverend Wright, associated with the United Church of Christ...? Christ as in Christian? Just sayin'...

I believe that an Islamic Community Center and Mosque has the same right to be built in this area as any other establishment.

A quick Google of "what is two blocks from Ground Zero" found me this. There are chain fast food shops, independent delis, strip clubs, and little stores being run by Americans. Similar to many other blocks and neighborhoods in cities. So, America continues beyond the 16 acres where we were all riveted nearly 9 years ago. Geographically. Chronologically.

How far away from the tragedy is appropriate? Not 2 blocks? How about 4? Not in the same city? Are we practicing segregation again?

Please, please let this issue continue. Please let someone wonderful give a civics lesson as a reminder that America needs to remember itself. That our young nation was started as a colony of people escaping religious persecution. That our founders gave their children the freedom to believe and practice as they chose, and rights (waving a finger at those looking to repeal the 14th Amendment) to carry on, and that's how we got here.

I embrace differences of opinion so long as they remain logical and legal. But Americans who wave the flag - my flag - and scream about how a place to worship would be a slap in the face to Americans and those who died in the towers don't seem so patriotic.

Every religion has extremists. Every group organized around anything has zealots. Germans are not Nazis. Muslims are not terrorists.

Americans, the bigger, better part of Americans, I hope can rise above this fear of "other" and carry on.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Tonight Willa wept because I asked her to go upstairs and get her Frog and Toad anthology so Jim could read Henry a story from it. They've been making their way through the book; I didn't know that when I brought it to her room.
She cried, and pouted, and flung herself to the floor, wailing, "I wanted to read it tonight."
She only has about 80 other books in her shelves.
By the time she brushed her teeth, and we brushed her hair, Jim and Henry were done with the book, I handed it to her, asking her to take it up.
She and I went to her room. She happily jumped into bed. I asked her where the book was. She said, "um... I think I left it downstairs. That's okay, we can read something else."

These two have hit the rivalry stage hard. They argue over everything: parental affection, who gets to walk out the front door first, who gets the red cup, who likes Arlo more... it's exhausting.
On the other hand, when they're buddies, watching them hug and giggle and actively appreciate each other makes it all worth it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I mentioned that we're boxing up things around the house to make it appear that our home is not cluttered (it is) and that it's possible to live here with 2 kids, 2 dogs, and 2 adults with a good organization system (it's not).

The house isn't officially on the market yet. Maybe this week.

Can I tell you a few things we've run into during the start of this process?
-first realtor we spoke to came to our house, and spoke to Jim for 15 minutes before even looking at me, let along speaking... not a great impression.
-first house we went to look at - for fun - apparently suffered an earthquake centered in its basement. There was a giant crack in the whole house, and the wall of the basement hung a good eight inches from the floor. No, thanks.
- we looked at another house that gave me daydreams about a greenhouse after looking at its online profile. That realtor was really kind in meeting us the next day to show us around. He showed up wearing an oversized (stained) oxford shirt which he did not tuck into his corduroy cut-off shorts.
I wasn't so impressed with the professionalism with realtors until we met the woman we're likely to sign papers with this week. She's positive, and realistic, and warm, and I like her. Also, she shook my hand at meeting, and wasn't wearing cut-offs.
Today, we puttered around town in the Sinkimobile with a list of houses we liked. At the second house, I got out to walk around the (empty) house. I got to the side and noticed my feet, and then legs were suddenly really itchy. I looked down and saw 20 bees on one sandal. I ran out, jumping and yelping. Jim came out of the car, and swatted some away with his hat. I had both sandals off and - after noticing about a zillion more on the hem of my long skirt - yanked my skirt off in the driveway. I have a lot of bites, an antihistamine cream seems to be helping, but every so often I feel like someone is holding a flaming needle to my skin.
When I got in the car (pretty much right after publicly disrobing) Willa told me she thought I was doing a funny dance, and then she thought that Jim was hitting me.
That house is off the list (pretty much no yard).
We did see one that I'm currently daydreaming about. There's a barn! And a pond!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Hey friends! So, it's been nearly a month since my last post. We've been busy trying to stay cool, and celebrating my Grandpa's 90th birthday, and boxing up nonessentials in preparation to eventually sell the HQ. Mostly we've been enjoying each other, good produce, and the beauty of a Michigan summer. I'll get you all caught up soon. Hugs and kisses.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Looking glass

I am on day two of seriously trying to write my personal statement (basically a 2-3 page essay describing why I want to be in the Counseling program, and why they should love me) for my Masters application package. Finishing it is the only thing between me now and me being all applied.

Writing this is much like trying on bathing suits in a very small dressing room, under dramatically awful light. It's just me reading this so far, but in my head, my dressing room is surrounded by twenty year old 6 foot tall women wearing size 0 suits.

It's a very self conscious process, and I haven't even been accepted into the program yet.

I don't need bolstering from y'all. I know I have a good skill set for this profession and program. I just need to get it on paper.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

patience going both ways

I was tickling Henry, and Willa - who is going through a gigantic phase of "me too" - asked me the same question for the 43rd time. I had answered this question when she first asked it. She in her magical thinking stage truly believes that asking more than once may change the outcome. It does, but not to her benefit; I get irritated and my eyelids start quaking.

Anyhow... tickling Henry, and Willa's standing over me asking something. When I did not immediately look up, she sighed from her toes, and said, "moth-er." I'm sure there was eye rolling involved.

Then I grabbed her, started tickling, and we all laughed.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Henry is now the age that Willa was during this post. And that freaks me out a little.

Not related: we went on vacation, and are back. And I'm working on a post here, but I'm having troubles with photos and words, and really should be doing laundry instead. So, until later this week...

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Best lesson in humility


Henry is three and a half months away from 2. And yet his absolute two-ness is amazing. Remember when I shared about him losing his mind routinely? I'm not here to write about that, yet that chapter continues.

He's been showing some pretty strong signs of potty training readiness. Telling us when he's just gone, or (better yet) when he needs to go, and actually using the toilet... these are all good signs. Just hours ago, I said to Jim, "when we get back from vacation, we should maybe try to really start potty training."

So, tonight when he put out the alert, I placed him on the toilet and after we all danced with great enthusiasm. Afterwards, I put set him loose in the house in only a pair of shorts.

Free range Henry did well for nine minutes. At minute ten, when I scooped him up for a bath, his bottom was wet. "Henry," I said, "you need to tell me when you need the toilet. You can't go potty in shorts. Do you understand?"

"Uh-huh," he nodded with gravity.

"So, no accidents, okay?"

"Ohh-KAY!" he grinned and hugged me.

As I slid his shorts off and sent him to the bathroom and a waiting Jim, Henry ran, peeing all the way.

New temporary charges

Oh Lordy, pals... a few evenings ago, I was sitting in our backyard and marvelling what real estate agents might call a "park-like setting" in our backyard. There were frolicking squirrels and a few rabbits that Henry chased after giggling. We've got a lot of nature here.

And if you've been around for a while, you know that nature likes Camp Sinki as a birthing center, which has been equal parts cool and vexing.

I knew there was a Cardinal's nest in our front pine tree. We've watched them collect materials to build their nest and recently they've been making lots of round trips. We've heard peeps from above.

On Thursday, I was rushing the kids out the door to get Willa to preschool. We immediately noticed a baby bird hanging upside down, beating its wings furiously. A closer cool showed two baby birds with one foot each tangled, apparently in the brambles of the old tree. I got a step stool and a golf umbrella and gently moved the branch while two very concerned adult cardinals kept close watch. Everyone had high nerves, so I called that good enough, loaded the kids up, and left.

Henry and I did some errands and returned home two hours later. The chicks were still hanging and had bloody wings and legs. Up I went again. This time I could see they both had thread twisted around their tiny legs. I grabbed them, the nest fell, the male cardinal dive bombed me (no contact). I sat with one on my lap and the other in my hand while I unwound the thread, which was wrapped at least eight times. And then I did the other. They were weak, and their wings were pretty bloody. I took the nest, an old pair of soft Henry pants, and the birds, and placed them in the recycling bin under the tree.

Their mom and dad made several concerned visits before starting the feeding visits.

Jim got home, and we strapped the recycling bin to the tree, about 5 feet up. We figured this would keep the baby birds safe from neighborhood carnivores (including, sadly, Greta the dog.). The whole bird family seems to have adjusted to their new home. The babies may have been ready to start learning flight, but they need some time now to heal and rest.

Photo to follow.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The walk in the woods.

"Big tree! Baby tree! Shhh... deer... sleepin'." My hiking companion was excited to be out on the trail with me this morning. He pointed out items of interest: "LURK mama! LEAF!"

Henry and I went to the Calvin Nature Preserve after dropping Willa off at preschool. He walked fine until we went over a boardwalk. Right now, walking over boards that he can see between makes him uneasy, so he spent the first 10 minutes on my shoulders, patting my cheeks with excitement whenever he heard a bird.

Then he got down and walked. And walked. He did great! We saw ducks and turtles and a lot of chipmunks. At the end of the trail we entered the interpretive center and then the butterfly "house." There was a group of people in there, and a sweet kid put the butterfly that had been hanging out on his arm, right on Henry's. Henry stared at it, amazed, until it moved a whispery foot. He cried until the sharer reclaimed his butterfly.

We had such a great time, we went again after picking Willa up.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Our neighborhood flasher

Last week, I was at the side of the house, examining the progress of our dill and chamomile. It was evening, the kids were in the bath. Jim was watching them. I thought.

I heard the screen door slam, and heard small footfalls. Soon after, a sudsy, giggling, and quite naked Henry was hugging me.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Our little Wednesday Adams

Last week I packed the kids into the car, got them buckled in, and joked that no one ever buckled me in.

Willa told me it was because I was a grown up. And then asked if she would ever be as old as I am. A quick note here: not "as old" as in "mom, you are very, very old..." but just wondering if we'd ever be the same age.


And then Willa said, "mom [long pause] when you die, I'll always remember you in my heart."
My eyes welled, and I couldn't speak for a minute. I made a comment about how I wasn't planning on that happening for a long, long time.

I was grateful for her statement for two reasons:
1) Awwww, right?
2) Willa now realizes, I think, that I am likely to die before her. She had been asking questions about how I would feel when she died, and I had no idea how to face that head on, as I didn't want to keep her up at night worried about me dying the next day.

She is, as I think I've written here before, somewhat morbidly fascinated with death. She interrupts conversations randomly with a sad face, a sigh, and a statement about missing her great grandma (who died when Willa was only 20 months old). I've had some concerns, but I think it's been a long, but now passing, phase.

There have been some comments worth recording, though:

-When Arlo and Greta die, can we get a bunny?
-It's not very nice to die in front of everybody. Everybody doesn't need to see my underwear, and everybody doesn't need to see someone die.
-shhhh.... I'm not sleeping. I'm dead. Wait! I'm just pretending I'm dead.

Here's hoping this phase keeps her away from the Goth or EMO or whatever style requires a lot of black and eye makeup when she gets older. I'm pretty sure that would kill Jim.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Brain workout

Have I written here that I'm applying for grad school? I am. Central Michigan University has a counseling program, and I'd like to be in it.

Part of the application process is taking the Miller Analogies Test. Remember hand is to arm, as foot is to ____? Ratchet those up a bit in the thinking department, do 120 of them, progressing in difficulty, and that was my Saturday at 9:30.

I'm a huge crossword geek who loves puzzles and figuring things out. But a straight 60 minutes of these on the computer left me itching to jump up and stretch at about minute 42.

I finished, and got a prelim. score back. Friends, I kicked Analogy ass.

And after we were all done, I asked the somewhat familiar guy next to me his name. Out of the 7 people taking the test at that location that day, I was sitting next to someone I graduated from high school with. 150 miles and 17 years (gulp) ago.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I told y'all about the train joke here.

On the road, and knowing we were track-bound, I pulled my camera out, and slyly captured this:

Now, pals, Henry goes over a bump on the road and he turns into a one man show:
HEY! Dere a TWAIN two here!
How you KNOW dat?
[long, long pause]
ha. ha. ha.

It gets tricky when both kids are in back. Willa doesn't miss a chance to say it, Henry makes up opportunities. I'm trying to teach them another joke.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The little fella

Speaking of prayers, I have a few related to Henry who:

- refuses to hold hands and pray at dinner lately. "No, 'hi God.'" "No, 'thank you.'" "No, 'amen.'" followed immediately by "Aaaaaaa-men."
- ate 1/2 of Jim's chicken breast at dinner tonight.
- seems to - at random times throughout the day - have most of his rational brain missing. We've hit the tantrums big time. Willa. She had tantrums. Hers, at the time, seemed Grand Canyon big. Henry sports a tantrum the size of Jupiter AND its 9 moons. Big, epic, random meltdowns.

and some thank you prayers:
- dude has used the potty 3 days in a row, his own doing.
- he saw a photo of me and said, "pretty mommy."
- this laugh of his. BIG, from his appendix, eyebrows dancing...

Henry, I was just joking at dinner when I told dad you were likely to grow up to be a carnivore, evangelical preacher, republican just to spite me.

Monday, June 14, 2010

getaway, growth, shortness

Because of Jim's job, we've been lucky enough to spend at least a few hours on Mackinaw Island every Memorial Day weekend. And because of my parent's hospitality, we're lucky enough to spend some time at Higgens Lake at that time too. Above are the kids on the porch of the Metiever Inn. And below are the kids at the Higgens Lake dock.

Jim looked at this photo, laughed, and said, "this photo will define your relationship with her for the next 20 years." Also, pals! I got my hair cut. SUPER SHORT! And while friend Erin did a great job, I have a hard time managing it without the aid of sunglasses or a headband.

This is Willa's drawing. She says that's what God looks like. This was before she decided to agree with my feeling that little bits of God are all around her in the form of people, animals, plants, etc that you love.
We pray every night at our table. Have I mentioned that here yet? We hold hands, and say thanks God, and ask for any help we may be looking for. Every day Willa starts hers, "Thank you God, for this beautiful day." Even if it's stormy or chilly or too hot. Every day is beautiful. And every day she includes, "and thank you for the birds." God is in the goldfinches that visit our bird feeder several times a day. Thank you, God.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

at the edge

Willa had a tadpole. We got the whole kit n' caboodle for her birthday. Fiona arrived about a month ago, and she happily lived until Saturday morning.

Know what else happened over the weekend? Really great things: Jim came home from being work-gone for a while. We went to Festival downtown: all 3 days. We caught up with Keri for lunch one afternoon. We met our pals the Groens at a park on a fantastic evening.

I digress.

Also, Greta the dog found a rabbit den on the lawn. I didn't know until I saw Greta with a baby bunny in her mouth. She ate it. And then another before I could grab her. It was truly horrifying. Luckily the kids didn't see this. They did however see the remaining babies.
In the morning, I knew momma rabbit never returned to the den that night, which meant the babies were hungry. So, I scooped up the ones that were still alive, placed them in a fleece lined bucket and got them something to eat until we could bring them to the rescue lady.

I went to feed Henry's fish. One was dead.

I took a deep breath and counted to 10.

I dreaded telling Willa that Fiona died. She doted over the frog-to-be.

While Henry napped, I pulled Willa to my lap and told her, "I have some sad news to share..."

She was very sad, "she didn't even get to be a frog, mom!"

I started to cry. Friends, I couldn't stop. My daughter was crushed. My dog was a bunny eater, Henry refused to eat his lunch, Jim was gone... I cried and cried.

And then she said, "mom? Maybe we can order 2 more from California now?"

We buried Fiona and Mandarin the fish in a shared grave under the white peony yesterday. We'll be putting the Frog Habitat in storage for a while. At least until I shake that Elmyra feeling.*

* You know... Elmyra from Tiny Toons. Wikipedia says this about her: Elmyra is quite young and obsessed with animals and cute things (which is probably why she works as a nurse at Acme Looniversity), even chasing after animals whom she knows are her classmates at Acme Looniversity, obliviously causing great discomfort or serious injury to potential pets from her overenthusiastic affection and complete lack of even the most rudimentary knowledge of pet care.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Henry says...

Today Henry called his quesadilla a "K...E-I-E-I_O."

And when he saw me pull a tampon from the cupboard, his eyes lit up and he begged for a "cheese stick too?!"

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

also titled, "Why I spent an hour locked in my room with 2 beers"

Jim's back in the classroom this term. He's taking two classes now, and has only one left. He's done really well thus far and I should give voice to the huge part of me that is a supportive partner. He's working hard on his Masters degree, and even harder on balancing the demands of school, a full time job, and a family.

He had class last night, and got home at 10 pm. And he'll have one tomorrow night. Thursday he has an evening meeting, and tonight he went to another meeting.

Tonight was going well; the kids and I walked to the playground, had a great time, came home, talked with the neighbor kids and then it was time for bath. They both enthusiastically undressed and got in the tub. Moments later, Willa called out (in alarm) to announce that Henry had pooped in the tub.

Grumble, grumble... kids out, toys out, water out. Scrub tub with baking soda and vinegar. Toys to the basement to soak in bleach water. Bath #2 drawn. Kids in.

And moments later, there's yelling again. While I was scrubbing the tub for the second time in 20 minutes I wondered where this was coming from: 2 new teeth this week has slowed down the eating.

And when Henry had to endure a cool shower - the hot water was gone after 2 full tubs and me doing dishes - he screamed.

I called Jim at 8:45 and left the following message: I need you to come home. I'll be the one who is drunk.

I am not typing drunk. But those two beers, some pretzel rods and an hour of Glee lifted spirits. Though probably not as much as when, searching for some silver lining, I asked Willa to tell me one thing she liked about me. She replied, "I love you because you give the best hugs. Can I have one now?"

Yup, rough night. Tomorrow is a new day.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Henry's trying to figure it out.

Henry's been listening to Willa try to "train" Arlo a little too closely.
I was getting him dressed this morning, and here's how our conversation went:

Me: Henry, you're getting so big! You're a big boy.
Him: Hen-we bad boy.
Me: No, sweetie, you're not a bad boy. You're good. Henry's a big, good boy.
Him: Aaaa-me (yes, my 19 month old son is getting a kick out of calling me Amy this week) bad boy.
Me: No. Momma is a girl. Momma is a good girl.
Him: La la... bad boy?
Me: No, Willa is a girl. She's a good girl. Henry is a boy. Daddy is a boy. Momma is a girl.
Him: Hen-we boy.
Me: Right! And mom and Willa are...
Him: Bad.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Right now

Willa has just informed my that "the bam-boom needs some water."
She means bamboo.

Henry has just told me, "happy plant day."

"Because it left its tracks"

Here at Camp Sinki we value compassion, honesty, kindness, and a good joke.

Here's one (it's situational and must be done in the proper time and place: outside just after going over railroad tracks):
Person 1:"Hey! There was just a train through here!"
Person 2: "How do you know that?"
Person 1: "Because it left its tracks."
And then everyone present laughs.

This is an old joke that my dad's dad told him, he told us and on and on. Recently, Willa was in the van with her grandparents and great-grandpa. She told the joke, and (my mom reported) my grandpa cracked up.

But now the old joke has gotten really, really old. As in, I take different routes to destinations based on train track presence to avoid the "HEY!" coming from the back seat. And, given our location in the city, it's difficult to go track-free.

So. Every time we go over a set of tracks, Willa starts the joke, and demands that we participate. We are duty bound to ask, "how do you know" and then explode into appreciative laughter after. We tried to wean her by just not laughing, but she said, "guys! Laugh!" We tried to teach her new jokes.


This week we went over tracks, Willa set it up, we swung, she delivered the punchline. Jim and I were silent for a moment. And from behind my seat, where Henry sits there was a completely fake and forced, "ha. ha. ha."

The joke is renewed.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Dear Scientists


TO: Scientists
FROM: Willa
RE: Pluto

"I want to tell those scientists that Pluto should be a planet again."

When I suggested to our indignant sky watcher that she grow up to be a scientist, and speak to others to convince them to reinstate Pluto, she said, "that's a GREAT idea."

Career path: set.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

7 x 5

So, I went ahead and turned 35 yesterday.

Gosh, I'm a lucky gal. Willa and I were playing when she jumped up and hugged me, "MOM! It's your birthday! Happy birthday!"

The kids and I went to the zoo. Jim came home from work early for birthday cake (before dinner!). He and Willa made a delicious pineapple upside down cake.

In addition to the days away in Traverse City, Jim hunted down a new Americorps sweatshirt. It's strange to have one that doesn't have paint stains and dirt that never came out, but so nice to have something to remind me of a very special year in my life.

And then we all went to Gaia for dinner. This is the vegetarian place in town, and we don't get there as often as I'd like. I loved my veggie hash, and Jim found a lot to like in the Mean Green Burrito (maybe we'll be back sooner than later now?).

We finished the meal with Henry dumping a half glass of ice water on me.

Jim had an evening meeting; when he left, I took the kids to the Meijer Gardens. Local folks, I haven't thought much of Chihuly until yesterday. Go! Go see it!

I ended the evening in a less than awesome way: on the couch for an honest to awful migraine. I know this sounds ridiculous, but in the absence of ability to play with my three favorite people in the house (luckily Jim returned just in time), I sat in a quiet, dark room thinking about what a strangely fantastic past year has been.

I didn't plan to lose my job, but while I've been spending time looking for the next step, I've been mindful of the time I've been given to concentrate on other priorities.

Two afternoons ago, I was sitting on the floor, surrounded by Little People Toys and listening to the kids chat with each other. I had this song in the background and when Michelle Shocked got to the "I think I'm a housewife" lyric, I grinned.

It was, indeed, a happy, happy birthday. Thanks y'all for being in my life and making my life so much richer.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Birthday eve

"Dad," she whispers to Jim, "bring your ear over here... I want to give mom 2 dresses. A purple dress and a green dress. With polka dots. They should be brown."

As Willa suggested gifts to Jim she got louder and more active in her dinner chair.

She stopped and looked at me. "MOM! This is secret."

Henry has been singing "happy... to you" all day. He has been carrying plaster cupcake magnets around yell/laughing "HAPPY CAKE!"

My birthday officially starts in, I guess, one minute. The kids are giddy. That and Jim's terrific concert in Traverse City surprise makes me feel honored, indeed.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sweetness follows

Our night time routine with the kids has settled into plucking them out of their shared bath and then playing man-to-man defense. Jim reads Henry his stories, sings him a sweet song, and tucks him in. I take Willa upstairs for her stories, a discussion of the day, and kisses.

Last night, Jim was taking Henry toward the crib. "Goodnight, Henry," I said, "I love you."

He replied, "I love you too, mommmmmie."

And I teared up a little. For some reason the "too" made a difference. He's not just repeating what we're saying; he understands, he knows, he reciprocates.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Away and back

Three cheers for Jim!

As an early birthday present, he whisked Family de Sinki to Traverse City for a mid-week getaway. Tuesday night he and I went to the Opera House for a Martin Sexton concert. "Wait," you're thinking, "what about the tots de Sinki?" He asked his parents to come visit their favorite city away from home and to watch the kids while we were on an honest to goodness date.

Family getaway and some nice time with my husband: awesome.

The concert, by the way, was amazing. Martin Sexton plays and sings on of his favorite songs for you here. This song continues a theme that has been presented for me to ponder lately: becoming who you are through not becoming other things. I'm liking it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sinkis in the news

I really like that the Grand Rapids Press captures and publishes families in the act of having fun about town. Now all 4 of the Sinkis have been published. The only drawback is Henry is being a huge diva this week.
On the left is Sunday's spotting of us at the kids museum with Lisa, Ken, and MaKenna. On the right is a picture of Willa and I at the Gardens a while back.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Shortcake tooks a lonnnnnng time

took a very. long. time. And 70 or so minutes into it, Willa entered the kitchen, said, "that's wonderful, mom. But where's her kitten? I wanted her kitten on the cake too." I sent her out, took 10 deep breaths and continued decorating.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Four Years Old

I've been observing this stranger walking around my house this week.

She resembles someone I feel like I knew. She actually reminds me a lot of me as a youngster.

Willa turned four years old yesterday.

She came down to my side of the bed at 3 am, afraid of the thunderstorm. At 4, I took her to the couch with me so Jim could sleep. We whispered for a while.

"You are four years old now, Willa."
"No, it's not day yet."
"But you were born at 2:51 am, so you're official now. Happy birthday, sweetie."
"Do I look different now, mom?"
"Shhhh....let's talk when the sun comes up."

I nuzzled her back to sleep, thinking about how she and I dozed in a hospital bed together 4 years ago.

I occasionally verbalize my thanks to her for making me a mom. On her birthday, she responded with, "thank you for making me a Willa, mom."

What a great kid, what an incredible adventure.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Dear Children of the world: I'm sorry

She looks cute and innocent, but she's planning something diabolical.

So, if Monday's headlines read that zillions of small kids awoke on Easter to find no hidden eggs or baskets of goodies, you can blame it on Camp Sinki.

Willa informed me this morning of a major plot she's been developing. She's going to capture the Easter Bunny. She's gone as far as to decide where she'll stow the dogs so they don't scare the Easter Bunny away. "I'll keep him in a box in my room, mom, and let him out every year so he can go hide eggs."

We've bargained that if she can catch the EB, she can keep him. And that she needs to be sure that she was the last on his list this year.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

not a fan of rationing

We used to set out a dish of dog food for Arlo and Greta, and made sure it always had food in it. They self-regulated well, and we didn't have to worry about them overeating. Then Greta doubled her width.
For about 5 months, I've measure out their food in the morning and after our dinner. They eat it, and wait for the next meal.
This week, I've noticed they weren't eating. I was starting to get concerned.
I got out of the shower this morning and heard *plink plink* Hmmm... I peeked around the corner to find Henry carrying the measuring cup to the dish with 5 pieces of dog food. He repeated this four times before I let him know he was being watched.
So, they've been eating what I've set out, and what I've seen as "leftovers" were just Henry's handouts.

Friday, March 19, 2010

counting blessings

Willa and Henry were on either side of me, happily nibbling on peanut butter and jelly and chatting with each other.

"I am a very lucky mom," I told them, "I have two wonderful kids."

Willa's eyebrows knitted together. "Mom... am I one of them?"

"How many kids do I have, Willa?"


"Well, then you are, right?"

"Good, I hoped so."

Henry laughed and threw his shoes on the floor.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy Spring

Willa, Henry, and I sat on a large wooden deck that overlooked the Blandford Nature Center woods. We ate oranges and graham crackers, and listened to birds. It was warm, and serene.

Later we walked on the trail, Henry holding Willa's hand during the less flat points. We saw maple sap collection buckets and greening ferns, and recovering owls.

We came home and chalked the sidewalk. Jim arrived home and we all played outside.

One of the new crocus is up, and is the sweetest buttery yellow. Peonies are pushing up their red nubs. Mums are sending up leaves.

Spring officially starts on Saturday. At camp Sinki, we're not much for "official."

Monday, March 15, 2010


"You know..." I told Jim, "they don't have passports. We could cross the border and they couldn't catch us."

Over the past three days, she refuses to listen, and he refuses to eat.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

checking in

I'm certain this is the longest I've gone without a blog update.

We're doing just fine.

Right now it's raining all of the snow away, and I'm grinning. We have 5 patches of purple crocus blooming next to our house. The tulips are stretching leaves out of the ground.

Jim's got the first three chapters of his thesis done. Closer to the degree, and still with all A's.

Willa got a new bathing suit. That evening she put it on Henry. He ran around cackling.

Willa and I went to the Ferdinand and the Bull concert from the Symphony. It was great.

Henry and I went to the GR zoo this week. He was more interested in the ducks in the pond than the lions on the other side of the plexiglass.

Jim and I went out tonight. All by ourselves. So nice.

We all went to a farm owned by Jim's coworker, Robin. We played with piglets, goats, chickens, horses and cows.

I've had less time on the computer, as our home laptop died. While I miss my online outlet to the adult world (HA! That didn't come out right, but I'm not changing it), and am frustrated about an impact on the ole job search, I'm getting more done at home and away.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

weekend roundup

The weekend "done" list:

Friday evening:
acquire the remaining bits of Jim's Polar Plunge Costume
Willa's haircut
Turn the kids loose at the small mall play area, pleasantly run into friends

Bundle up and cheer Jim as he jumps into Reeds Lake for the Special Olympics fundraiser

Go to a bowling party to celebrate our friend's newly minted "Certified Financial Planner" status
Visit with Jim's parents
Cuddle and soothe Willa through hours of crying as she deals with her first (big girl) ear ache.
Stop the evening nursing session with Henry (after 16 months bittersweet)
Go to a friends house to consume wine and food and just BE with some excellent women (not worry about possibility of incoming calls from home; Jim can handle any issues with Willa)

Tylenol (see above)
Drive to Lake Michigan to walk on the frozen heaps of water at the surf.
Feed and clean kids, kiss their sweet (and once again healthy) foreheads goodnight.
Ignore the piles the busy weekend has caused in the house.
Tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Willa's new 'do

Willa wanted her hair shorter than Henry's ("then I can be a boy!!"). That, obviously didn't happen.

Because she heard that birds might use hair to make nests, we came home with a pony tail to put in the garden.

PS, sorry Mom. It is darn cute though.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Willa words

Mama, my hair is like a cape for a superhero. A cape that -(wide eyes here) - comes out of my head!

I will be sad when I am a princess and I have to go live in Disneyland*. It's so, so far away from Michigan.

Henry! I need to to be quiet! This said at 3 am at my parents house after he cried for a bit.

* Someone told her that all princess live in Disneyland. I suspect it's the same someone who took her to the store and came home with princess valentines for the girls in her class. Nothing is sacred.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Not really dinner appropriate conversation

Jim: So, she asked me how the balloons got up there at the grocery store. And I told her that little monkeys blow them up, climb up the poles, and tie them there.
Me: Jim!
Jim: Okay, sorry. -sigh- Willa, there's something called helium, it's like air, but it's light and makes the balloons float. Monkeys fart helium.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Willa adds to her collection of loved items

Two days ago I took the kids to a local plant nursery.

Wait, let me back up.

Cabin fever/winter blues/seasonal affective... whatever, keeps trying to capture me. I fight back. I picked up a gardening magazine last week, and have been making hot tea at night and slowly reading it after the kids are asleep. It's like a mini-getaway, and it seems to be working.

There was a spread in the magazine about house violets that caught my fancy. When I moved into Jim's house, he had some beautiful violets that I promptly - though accidentally - killed. Seeking redemption (from Jim and the violet plant genus) I took the kids to a local plant nursery.

And found an adorable tiny violet to add to our terrarium. Willa fell in love with her own tiny plant (mini version of this) and I was willing to invest $3 in her happiness.

Yesterday, she asked me to bring it to school when I picked her up so she could show her friends.
And then after that? It went on a field trip to the Meijer Gardens. She carried it the whole time in a paper bag, cooing at it, and showing it to anyone who would look. I think we amused a few volunteers.

This morning I found her with Arlo on the couch. Phew, I thought, he hasn't been unseated by a houseplant. Except the plant was resting on the arm of the couch, watching over both of them.

Monday, February 01, 2010

what he says when he sees feet. And, strangely, chickens.

Willa + Arlo

One frigid morning a few years back, I pulled myself out of our warm cocoon bed, grabbed Jim's grey pull-over hoodie sweatshirt, and went to make coffee. From that day on, the hoodie has been mine. I had it, I liked it, it was mine.

In very much the same fashion, Willa has laid claim to Arlo.

Our upstairs consists of Willa's bedroom, attic space, and the room at the top of the stairs that I call our media room. It is the permanent home of our combined CD and book collection. Right now it also holds many bags and totes of clothes that are now too small for our rapidly growing children (sigh). In a month, the piano bench under the window will harbor hopes for Spring in the form of seedlings (grow, grow, grow).

Willa has been lonely up there. "I'm all alone," she states with sad eyes. I know it's a ploy to put off bedtime another 10 minutes, but those eyes... The fish tank was downsized and moved up into her room. "I'm still alone."

Two weeks ago, she started showing more interest in Arlo. I wrote about him a year and a day ago here. He's not my dog anymore, pals. In Baltimore, I would eagerly pat my bed, hoping my new dog would make a good cuddle and reading companion. He would give me a moment of his time, before hopping off and lying on the ground at the foot of my bed.

He sleeps in Willa's bed.

Right this very second, he is lying on the couch with Willa. His head is pressed against her shin and she is rubbing his longer, softer mane through her palms.

She talks to him constantly, and demands that he follows her through the house. When this all started, he was still very much the prematurely grumpy old dog who preferred to get attention on his own time, and spend the rest of his day napping under the kitchen table.

But now he wants to be with her. He's learned that little hands, that - two years ago - used to tug at his ears and poke his eyes, are now able to scratch and rub and pat him. He is recruited to wear tiaras and tutus and in exchange, she offers constant affection. He is her patient sidekick.

Tomorrow Arlo and I celebrate 7 years together. I suspect he'll be otherwise occupied.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I found the missing sippy cup

Yesterday Henry and I were playing on the floor in the living room. I watched him as he stood up, went to the bookcase, and slid open one of the doors. He pulled out a sippy cup, took a long drink, put it back in the bookcase, slid the door shut again, and rejoined me.

a) so glad it was water, and not day(s?) old milk
b) cup was immediately taken for washing

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Willa and Mom go to the symphony

Willa and I had a "girls date" on Saturday morning. I took her to see a Grand Rapids Symphony Lollipops concert. They did Hansel and Gretel, and were joined by members of the GR Ballet. Great show for someone who is 3. Great value, and perfect duration: $5 for a ~45 minute show. They'll be doing a different story in March (details here) and if you have a preschooler (or a little older or younger) I highly recommend this.

Here's the scene:
We're in the auditorium just before the show gets under way.
"Why does...."
"What is..."
"How come..."
starts eleventy-billion questions in a not quiet voice. She's excited.

The conductor strides out in a purple shirt.
"Who is..."
"Why is he..."
He talks for a bit, introducing the different instrument families. She LOVED the tuba.

And then the lights go down and the entire symphony plays the opening note.

I feel Willa shaking next to me. She bolts out of her seat and gives me a giant bear hug, then a grin. She giggles and sits back down. I guess the excitement was too much.

It was pretty awesome.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

movin' on up

Remember way back when I was one severely deficient in vitamin D?

0-14.9 ng/ml = Severely deficient
15.0-31.9 ng/ml = Mildly deficient
32.0-100.0 ng/ml = Optimal
>100.0 ng/ml = Toxicity possible

Guess who is in the "optimal" bracket now? 42, baby!

Where I "Jam on It"

I've been staying up too late recently. There's something magical about the house when the kids are sleeping, and Jim is either sleeping or working away at his Masters class. There's silence.

And so I stay up way later than I ought to, soaking it all in. No one is pulling on my arm, or whining - yup, it's been a rough few days, and my rose-colored sunglasses are missing after Henry emptied my purse for what could be the 32nd time today.

I recently found a new blog to read during this late night me-time. Basically, it boils down to "young woman, new city, zany adventures that wouldn't have been tackled in old city, and therefore new life(ish)."

And in the spirit of her blog, I give you my own rip off of Not That Kind of Girl:

Not The Kind of Girl: dons a funky hat with spandex hot pants and midriff shirts to shimmy and shake it on MTV (if, you know, MTV actually played music videos) as a back-up dancer.

I am: shamefully out of shape, chronically sleepy, and fairly clumsy

I am not: Fly-girl material

The Scene: I'm in my living room, tightening up sneaker shoe laces as well as my own resolve. I had already had a good inward chuckle at myself in the fitness aisle of Target. I laughed again at the checkout as the "Hip Hop Cardio Workout" dvd crossed the scanner, was put into a bag and handed to me.

Me? How the heck did THIS happen?

I decided to start feeling better, and actually do something about my body. The truth is there is no reality in me getting to a gym (time and money issues - no excuses there, real roadblocks), and I detest being cold, so winter walking is out (that is, admittedly, an excuse). I had started pricing home exercising equipment and mentioned it to my mom who agreed to loan us their treadmill. It wouldn't fit in Jim's HHR - we didn't even try - and it wouldn't fit in a mini-van we travelled in during Thanksgiving (Jim needed it for work in the area). There was a quasi agreement that mom and dad would bring it to us (ye-haw!).

So I waited, and made the day the treadmill arrived in the 616 area code, my start day for a new fitness day.

...and scheduling or some other thing hasn't brought the treadmill yet.

I grew restless and guilty and took the love handles by the... handles and opted to go the dvd route. And, well, if I were going to be spending time and effort, I might as well have some fun.

So... Target, dvd.... and a moment in my day when a woman instructs me with a perky smile to "Jam-on-it."

The Verdict: "Hip Hop Cardio" is kicking my butt, and it's fun, but at about minute 4.5 I remember a moment in middle school when a group of friends decided to make up a dance to something on the pop charts. I went left when they went right, and never quite got that spin down. But, then it wasn't any fun. Now? I laugh at myself and proceed. Extra bonus: the dvd came with a kickboxing workout that is also working nicely for me.

Friday, January 15, 2010

2009 Christmas Ornaments

I meant to do this last month but never got to it.
Here are Henry and Willa's special ornaments for 2009. I'm going to try to keep an annual record of the ornaments so, when the kids are old and married with their own trees, they'll know why mom and dad picked that one out for them.

Henry's is a bear with a duck life preserver ring. He gets/will get a bear ornament every year. The duck is significant, as his first word was duck. And we spent a heap of wonderful moments at various beaches during his first summer. Henry Bear enjoyed his toes in the wet sand, and crawling on the surf.

Willa's ornament is a girl on a dove's back. She goes back and forth between calling that girl an angel and a fairy. Three is the age of magical thinking: involved stories about talking animals and tiny human-like creatures. She believes me when I tell her about my youthful adventures with the Frog King, and we've often ended nights discussing Pipsqueak, the ladybug who lives with her family in a boot, in a field, by the side of the road. An angel/fairy on the back of dove was perfect for Willa Bird this year.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Never mind: cole slaw for dinner

At 2:30 Henry woke up in his crib.

Jim tried to get him back to sleep, and was successful for 20 minutes. When Henry woke the second time, I went in his room, and tried to pat and rub his back until he slept again. It didn't work. I brought him into the living room to hold him and whisper songs until he fell asleep.

It did not go well. He fought to be let go, and wandered the house sobbing. I picked him up... this goes on and on, and I'm sure you have better things to do with your lives then read about the heroic attempts I made in the line of battle.

I was reading "Goodnight Moon" at 4am. I did everything I could except my one surefire trick. He cried, I leaked. Finally, I weighed the options, and backsliding on weaning was worth an hour of sleep to me.

Sweet sleep.

He woke at 10 this morning, and we did not nurse.

Weaning is a process, not an event, I have to remind myself.

Henry has been having some terrible, awful sleep issues for about 10 days now. I took him to the doctor on Friday to rule out ear infections and the like. Looks like we're just going through a phase. A blurry, sleep deprived, grouchy phase.

Monday, January 11, 2010

One down (maybe), one to go

Hi pals.

First, my son clearly says many words including daddy, Arlo, Greta, please, thank you, bear.... know what he calls me? Bob. When he calls out to me, I pretend that he has an eternal cold, and his plugged nose is the only thing standing in the way of a correct "Mom."

So, today was a milestone in Bob-'n-Henry land. I slept on the couch to give sick Jim a little space. Henry woke up when the sun came up (which is also notable after a week of terrible sleep), Jim plucked him from the crib, changed his diaper, and let him loose. We're all organic with our free-range children at Camp Sinki.

And instead of approaching me with his baby bird gaping mouth, ready to nurse, he played with dinosaurs and Mr. Potato Head.

He never asked, and I never offered. Looks like we're weaning (at least from the morning session); which is fine by me. A few months ago, I looked deep into his eyes and realized the magic was gone. He was certainly healthy, and physically developed enough, and he took to cow milk well. He's made nursing into a game, trying to hop from one breast to the other, and then back. Taking a break to tickle his own toes (saying tick-L tick-L aloud) or to kiss my lips or blow raspberries on my belly.

At about 10 this morning, I felt the physical consequence for not nursing this morning. My breasts felt like I had lead in them. I took a pain reliever - yup, it's that uncomfortable.

After dinner, I hit the grocery store and picked up a few things, including cabbage.

Henry took his bath tonight, and nursed before going to bed. Sweet relief.

But I'm still wearing cabbage inside both bra cups as I write. It helps.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Yes and No

"Is that a good sandwich, Henry?"
"Would you like to go to the store?"
"Should we tickle daddy?"

These all get deep, slow nods from Henry. His head solemnly swears that he agrees with the question at hand. As though God himself has asked a favor. Yes, from the bottom of Henry's little heart, yes.

"He understands so much more than we think," states Jim.

I ask, "Henry, would you like snakes to gobble up your toes?" He nods.

He does disagree with one topic: sleep. Any question involving sleep, naps, or bed gets a quiet, almost kitten "meow"-sounding noooooo.