Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 Ornaments

Every year, the kids get a new special ornament.  We try to find something that is meaningful to the experiences the last year held.  When they were born, we decided that Willa would get a bird ornament, and Henry would get a bear.
Here are this year's new additions.
Henry's is a Rock and Roll koala bear. You will not find this guy with a guitar in the stores; the guitar is hot glue gunned on. Henry really connected with music this year. He sings all the time (click that link for proof). He dances even more. Life with Henry is like living in West Side Story (minus gangs and tragic star crossed lovers). He got a kid-sized guitar for his birthday, and when I took him to the fabric store to pick out something to make a guitar strap from, he picked a zebra print, "because it's like a rockstar's, mom." He's so retro. Also, the bear's orange scarf and rings are great, as orange is his current favorite color.

Willa's new ornament is an owl.  In her last year, she's learned to read.  She asked Santa for one thing: a book.  She got about 30 of them.*  She's learned to make friends with a whole new crop of kids.  She's growing in knowledge, compassion, and hauls around wisdom far, far beyond her five years.  Her love for books and animals, her frustrating habit of needing accuracy, and the way she can turn a pile of blocks into hours of adventure and imagination (as is happening at my feet right now) feels like living with a child version of myself.  The owl (in her current favorite color) represents the awareness of the world that she's gaining, and the wisdom that she's bringing to it.

*Many of my friends will be delighted to read that my mom and dad gifted Willa with the first 20+ books in the Boxcar Children series.  We're 1/3 of the way through book 1, and I can't believe I missed out on this as a kid!  Also, Santa brought Willa a giant illustrated children's dictionary.  She spent an hour last night on her new beanbag paging through the book that weighs 1/2 as much as she does.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Keeping Seasonal Affective Disorder at bay

We've had a mighty kind late fall in the Mitten State.  There's been almost no snow on the ground (in our fair city, anyhow) and we've had decent sunshine.  I know what lies ahead, though, and I got out my "happy light" to prepare.  The bulb is burnt out.  Deep breathing.  I know I can go get another one at the store.  It's just... well the metaphor of it all...

Anyhow, a few days ago, I was outside and smiled to see that we still have a few healthy looking petunias and more than a few snapdragon flowers outside.  In December.  In Michigan.

It's not likely they'll survive into January.  This puts us flowerless (outdoors) for January.  In late February my crocus come up.

One month with no flowers?  I can do this!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Technology is fun.

I posted this video nearish Father's Day.
And then I played with my new computer and did this to it:

And I never put it here? Oops. Done.

My little pal

Dear Henry,
When you read this, you'll be older and I have - God help us - shared this blog with you and your sister.  I know that lately the posts here have been about Willa.    Yeah, I know, you've noticed.
You and I spend our days together alone now.  For three whole months it's you and me during the weekdays.  You've been my sidekick on errands, on walks in the woods, at home doing chores, on the floor playing games and doing projects, and on the couch watching PBS kids.
My arm is with me all the time, and I don't write about that.  But my arm is not full of crazy-energy, affection, questions, demands, humor and ideas.  I've been taking your awesomeness for granted, I think.  Rather, I've been taking my access to your awesomeness for granted.  And I'm sorry. 

Henry (and Chilly Willy the Penguin) at the
Detroit Thanksgiving Parade

Yesterday we were walking at a store, and without thinking or talking about it, you reached up, and I reached down at the same time and we held hands.  Not because there was a crowd or cars nearby.  We just like to hold hands.
At night I sigh with relief when you go to sleep.  You talk a lot.  No, that's an understatement: you talk all the time, and my ears need a break at night.  But what you have to say is delightful and challenges me to learn.  I think you're on the ending edge of your "how do they make" question phase.  Thanks to that, we've watched videos on how pencils and light bulbs and plates are made.  We've talked about roads and crayons and cars being made.  I'm learning some things right with you.
You are a very bright 3 year old.  This morning you explained (in your characteristic paragraph format) what metamorphosis is.  You invent funny pranks.  You are sensitive to feelings.
Kiddo, you're a neat person.  I'm glad to be able to spend this time with you.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Goodbye baby tooth

For a week, the tooth was plotting it's escape.  On Friday, while visiting with my family in my parents' family room, it finally came out.  Willa galloped over to me with her teeny tooth in her hand, "it happened!"
Luckily, we brought the tooth fairy pillow I had started for her.  She stuffed it, and my mom sewed up the final corner. 
The tooth fairy found us, even though we were out of town.  The tooth fairy left a note.  Gracious, I don't know when "the tooth fairy" last wrote a note in cursive.  It took her a long time.  Er... I'll bet.

And this is the turkey that I made for Friday's Thanksgiving celebration with my family.  He turned out darn cute, so I'm recording this photo to share a vegetarian turkey option.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Take a look, it's in a book...

We were snuggled in her twin bed, under the blankets.  I held the thin paper book, while she rested her head on my shoulder and sounded out "tree."  She knows "the, little, cat, dog, big" and others by sight, but is learning to figure things out too.

For five and a half years, we've read bedtime stories to her.  Last night, she read to me.

I'm proud and amazed at the learning process.

I know I said it before, but watching her learn to read is better than watching her learn to walk.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Good deed doer

On Sunday, the kids and I went to church.  Jim also went to church, but a different one where he's been working for months as their sound technician.
The kids spend their time in Character School while the adults are in the sanctuary.  I was grateful to have an hour without Henry all over me.  He's been sick and clingy for about 2 weeks now.
Our minister was very moving and powerful, and at the end of his sermon literally told us all to get out of there and get to work.  I was excited.
I picked the kids up.  They were happy to be back at church after a few weeks away (for illness and family visits), they had good talks in their rooms, AND there was a fire drill.
We walked to the parking structure, and next to my car was a red pick up truck with it's lights on.  The door was unlocked.  I looked around, and got the kids into their seats.  I asked an approaching family if it was their truck, and when they said it wasn't, they joked about being my witnesses as I opened the door. 
I wasn't saving the world, like our minister dared us to do, but this was a good first step.
I opened the truck's door, which was a little heavier than I expected.  I couldn't stop the door in time, and well... now my black car (which is way past shiny and new) has a small bit of red paint on it.
My witnesses gasped for me, I turned off the lights, and shut the door.
Good deed done, and now I have the red paint that I'm choosing to act as a reminder of the stirring sermon.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Old lefty...

She thinks a little differently than most. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Six years ago, I woke up and went to the grocery store.  I felt like I was floating as I picked up fresh fruit and mini-muffins for my mom, my bridesmaids, and myself.  In my imagination, I was glowing like angels do in some Christmas movies.  With an beatific outward glow, and a serene smile, I paid for the food with exact change.  I wanted to tell everyone in the store that I was getting married that day.  I got to marry the best guy I had ever met.  I didn't tell them, because I thought it would slow the day down, and I was in a hurry!

Six years.  Still the best guy I've ever met.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Funny at 3

Henry's developing the best sense of humor.  He just came out of his room, giggling.  He stood in front of me with a huge grin.  He unzipped his footie pj's to reveal his pants from the day.  He ran out of the room laughing his head off.  "Just kidding!"

Friday, October 14, 2011

Busy week and a monster

This week and I are not friends.

On Sunday we have an open house, so we've been making our house look extra nice.  The carpet in our bedroom is gone (on a related note, I've earned a few calluses), and we're repainting.

I have my final weekend of my consulting class today and tomorrow.  The last weekend is always brutal.  There's a lot to cram into 3 weekends, and the final one always ends in a big test or project.  This project has been a group one, and for a bunch of counsellors in training, communication has been... well, there's room for improvement. 

Then there are 2 birthdays in our family in the next 4 days.  So, preparing.

Jim has obligations on Tuesday and Thursday nights for a while.  So, it was 2 against one last night.

Inconveniently it was also last night that my adorable son turned into a goblin.  I thought he wanted to be a robot for Halloween, so I'm caught off guard.  You know how people do amazing things?  The double amputee who builds houses?  The 90 year old who decides to learn how to read?  The child who had nothing growing up, but used some bootstraps to eventually own a Fortune 500 company? 

Henry was like that last night: his tantrum was awe-inspiring.  It lasted 2 hours (!).  He was like the Kenyan marathon runners of temper tantrums!  His whole body turned red.  He jumped and kicked and screamed.  There was a lot of sweat.  He didn't even take a water break.  Dude was committed to the tantrum.

For me it was scary, and frustrating, and funny, and exhausting all at once.  I finally got him to calm down by holding him tightly against me.  He gave a giant sigh, and       stopped.  


He rubbed my cheek, and whispered, "mom, I'm sorry.  I'm not bad, I'm just tired."


Some of you have already seen this, if that's the case... move along or reread, whatever.  It's your two minutes.
I've mentioned that through a local message board, I've made some really swell pals.  Yesterday one of them mentioned that she and her toddler son were dressed the alike.  Mom friends?  Does that happen a lot to you?  Because there have been many times that the kids and I are unintentionally dressed alike.  Case in point:
This was at my cousins' wedding, which was out of town. This means that I had to spend time picking and packing both my dress and Willa's. And the whole time, my unconscious is giggling at me, just waiting until I realized that we were wearing Mommy and Me outfits. That happened at the reception, 6 hours after getting dressed in the first place. Oye. I think Willa knew already. I mean, look at her face.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Homework Club

Last week, Willa brought home her first homework.  Her pals helped her out.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Today ends the first month of Kindergarten for the Sinki famiy. I know that Henry, Jim, and I aren't sitting next to her on the carpet while they review the calendar. I know that she and her peers negotiate the monkey bars at recess. We are not with her during the day, but school has changed our family. The first two weeks, we were exhausted. She was a zombie when I picked her up at the end of the day. All day M-F school will do that, I guess. We were all zombies: our wake up time changed. We had to figure out 1 bathroom and 4 people who all needed to be in it at the same time. Lunch had to be made and packed up, shoes carefully picked out (is it gym today?), and forms, and forms, and forms... But we did it. Today, I got to go to the ballet with Willa and her class. Which meant Willa went on her first bus ride. Two weeks ago, the class all sat on a bus to learn about etiquette and emergency procedures. Today, Willa was my stewardess: "mom, if the bus tips over, we can get out through that hatch on the roof, and if we need it, there's a door in the back, and these windows come down..." Kind of a worrier, that one. The ride was fine. The ballet was... well, I think I share the opinion of ballet with a lot of 5 year old boys. Ballet is not "my thing" but I didn't put a coat over my head like my pal next to me did. I straightened him out, and then spent the rest of the time enjoying Willa's enthralled face down the row from me, and trying to get the other kids to be still and quiet. That's a challenge when it's dark, and quiet(ish), and you don't know names. Also, noteworthy: dark is different in the age of light up tennis shoes. I met a lot of characters today. There's no English girl (only one, I think), girl who steps on Willa's heels in line all the time, and Willa's self-proclaimed boyfriend who "sometimes makes bad choices, but is really cute."

Thursday, September 29, 2011


It was pouring when I went to pick Willa up at school today. I got a great parking spot, and locked Henry in the car. Under a giant yellow golf umbrella, I walked 50 yards and waited for Willa's class to come out of the school, lined up behind a teacher. There was another mom waiting. She stood under a tree without an umbrella or a rain jacket. "Hi," I said, "you're already soaked, but let's stand next to each other." We shared the umbrella.

She didn't say a word. For the whole 3 mintues that we waited.

I was so uncomfortable, and it's obviously stuck with me for the day.

Monday, September 12, 2011


World, be prepared for Henry and his shoebox guitar covering ABBA.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Class of 2024

Today was a good day. Getting ready at home went well. The school was chaos when we arrived. Willa hugged Henry for a big minute. We found a table for her to sit with, and the girls already there introduced themselves to her right away. She gave me a duo of hugs, the second more tight. Both of us had a tiny lip quiver. Then I told her it was time for us to leave. She smiled and said okay. I kissed her cheek, and left. I took one last peek (and photo). She was ready for me to go, and was just fine:

It was a great first day. No tears from Willa or me.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Kindergarten eve

Her outfit is laid out. The backpack is labeled, and has been filled with crayons, glue sticks, markers, pencils... We did some role playing at bedtime where she introduced herself to me (someone in her class). We giggled as I pretended to be people from the Ramona books we've just finished.
This morning, Willa had a hard time listening and acting like... well, herself. When I asked her what was going on, she shuffled her feet and mumbled "Idon'tknow." A minute later, she whispered in my ear, "I know what's going on. I'm nervous about tomorrow.
I am about to pack her lunch. I want to include a note. I'll just write "I love you." I know she can read that. Also, it's not very appropriate to write this:

I'm nervous too. How is your teacher going to be able to make sure you're safe and learning and making friends when there are 34 kids in her class? How will she know you're left handed? I'm nervous that you'll have a hard time finding someone to sit next to at lunch. Or that you'll be the kid clinging to her mom at drop off. Worse yet, I'm worried that I'll be the mom clinging to her student. I'm nervous about packing you the right lunch. Are you going to be comfortable in your new clothes? Will you remember to shut the door when you use the school bathroom? Will you want to go back for day two?
I'm nervous about how Henry will cope with his co-conspirator gone during the day. I'm worried about how my role is changing as you both grow up - SO FAST!
But then I take a deep breath.
And I am comforted in knowing that you are a friendly little girl. You are smart. You are strong. You will get what you need, and try for what you want. You will make friends fast. You are kind and caring and respectful, and funny. You will do great, kid.

Like and oyster and a pearl

I mentioned in my last post that I had my gall bladder removed.

I spent a good part of late Fall - early Spring pretty sure I was pregnant. I was nauseous all the time, and there were other digestive issues. I had occasional pains that felt like early pregnancy stretching. There was bloating. I was exhausted. Despite the fact that I still had regular periods, I took a pregnancy test about every other week (friends, did you know Dollar Store tests are just as effective as the expensive ones?). I saw my gynecologist for my annual appointment, and talked to him about it. He took me seriously when I told him what was going on, and we both laughed when I told him I was worried I'd end up on one of those awful "I didn't know I was pregnant" tv shows - except I was certain I was. We did a blood test, and nope.

A month later, pain increased, and my doctor ordered a cat scan. The cat scan showed no cysts or hernias, which was what she was expecting. I did, however, have one stone in my gall bladder. And that stone was mighty large, and likely occasionally sat on the bile duct. It's amazing to me how much trouble that one stone caused.

So, a week and a half ago, I had the gall bladder and stone removed. Today, I'm feeling 95% back to normal. When I was preparing for it, I did a lot of reading on the web. That's a bad idea, as there's a lot of worst case info out there. To balance out the info, I might write here about the surgery and recovery this week.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Outing. Robots. Sweet girl.

Blanco de Sinki has been kind of Willa heavy lately, hasn't it? I imagine it has a lot to do with the deep down part of my brain wrestling with the fact that the newborn that joined our family yesterday is going to kindergarten on Tuesday. Not next year, not in a few months, or weeks... Tuesday. Woah.

We're working on changing routines in increments to help our first day go well. Soon, Henry and I will walk away from the elementary school, and start the rest of our day. And then, I'll probably have more to type about the little boy, who insists on being called a "medium sized boy."

Yesterday the kids and I went to Meijer. Mundane. Unless one is 5 days post gall bladder removal. This was the first time I took them out by myself. I wasn't on pain meds, I could brake quickly if needed. We walked around the whole store picking up fruits and vegetables, folders with horse pictures, and a pencil sharpener. Success, though I felt exhausted and kind of sore at one incision. I'll take the lifting restrictions more seriously for the next few days.

When we got home, Willa took a paper bag, and started to imagine it into a robot costume (one of 781 costumes Henry would like for Halloween). And then she counted our reserve paper bags, asking me how many kids were going to be in her Kindergarten class again. I asked what she was doing. "Well, I thought I would make robot costumes for me and all of my new friends."

I closed my eyes for a moment, listening to the deep down part of my brain pleading, "please, please, please, let my little girl keep this feathery sweetness about her."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sometimes, kids are jerks. And then it gets better.

We spent last week up north. There were many adventures, including:

  • Henry spending time actually swimming in Higgens Lake, not just sleeping in the blowup rowboat.

  • A trip assisted with a state map and my memory that resulted in us walking on the grounds of a cottage compound at Manistee Lake that my parents took us to when I was Willa's age. How's that for memory?

  • Campfires, deer sightings, tent sleeping for some

It was a great week. I'm going to share one of my favorite moments now.

Willa cracked the glow sticks in the kitchen of the cottage, 5 seconds after I told her she couldn't have even one for that night. It was late, and time for bed. Her consequence was going to bed without stories read together. When I went to talk to her about it, she told me she would not love me anymore if I didn't read to her. I explained that her bad behavior earned this bad consequence, and that I was disappointed in her choice, but still loved her. She cried and cried.

While I was brushing my teeth, she knocked on the bathroom door, saying that she needed her inhaler (when she throws a tantrum, she goes big). Her wheezing calmed after 2 puffs.

She told me that what she had said earlier was right and that she didn't love me anymore.

I sighed, told her to go back to bed, and washed my hands. A minute later, she came back out and stood in front of me. "Mom? I'm sorry I said that," she mumbled, looking at her feet, "I do love you."

I picked her up, and brought her to the couch. I told her that once when I was an older kid, I was angry with my dad for something, and told him that I didn't love him anymore. When I told her that it really hurt his feelings, she started to sob. She held on tight and said she didn't know that she hurt my feelings. We both said we loved the other, "no matter what" and she went to bed.

I know that this was just an overtired five year old testing out feelings and words, but it kind of sucker punched my heart to hear her say she didn't love me anymore. I hope the reconciliation between my dad and I was just as sweet.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

do the hokey pokey, and turn yourself about...

When I fell asleep last night, everyone was in the right place. At 4, Willa came into our bed, whimpering about nightmares. Shortly after, Henry joined us too.
This morning, Jim woke up on the living room couch, Henry woke up on the floor next to Jim's side of the bed (did he roll off? I don't know), Willa woke up in our bed, and I woke up in Willa's bed upstairs.
It was like sleep Tetris over here. I think we're all pretty tired this afternoon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Our preschool graduate

Exactly 5 years and 3 weeks ago, I left the building sniffling and wiping my eyes. It was my first day back to work after Willa's birth, and I had just left her in the arms of April, a woman I had met only twice before. My baby! This woman was now caring for my baby while I was at work.

Today, I left the building holding Willa's hand. I wiped my eyes, and sniffled. Here is my 5 year old on her last day at her daycare/preschool. Willa outlasted most of the teachers. There are only 2 other kids there who started near the time she did. I looked at them, remembering them as babies and sniffled. Even after losing my job, it was important to us to keep something constant in her life, and school was it.

I am so grateful to have found a place that I could bring her where I knew she was safe, learning, cared for, and having a great time.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Do, Re, Me, according to Henry

Yesterday Henry, Willa, and I were singing in the pool. Following are Henry's lyrics to the end of Do Re Me.

... La, a note to follow directions
Te, a drink with jam and bread
and that brings us back to life

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Willa has a great memory, is very funny, and wants a chicken for a pet

Willa and I were lazily swimming in Jim's parents' pool. She was telling me that she'd like a pet bunny. And a bird. Also a few kitties, a frog, a third dog, some more fish. And, of course a chicken. This kid: she's soooo me. I should not be shocked. We've had ample warning. Take a look at this post from when she was 18 months old.

So, back to the pool. She and I started joking about pet giraffes and other ridiculous animals for pets. I share with her the following:

Me: When I was a little girl, we weren't allow to have any pets that had fur or feathers.
Willa: Why?
Me: Because of Uncle Bill's asthma. Fur and feathers would make it really hard for him to breathe. So, I decided one day that I would like a pet pig.
Willa: That's a good idea! They only have little hairs!
Me: I know, smart, eh? So, my mom said that if the city allowed a pet pig, she'd think about it. I found their number in the phone book and called to ask. Wasn't that brave, Willa? I was only eight years old.
Willa (with huge eyes): What happened?
Me: Well, when they answered, I asked, and they laughed and hung up on me. They thought it was a joke.

Pals, this really happened when I was little. I cried for the rest of the afternoon.

She and I laughed, and spent another hour playing in the water.

We went into the house to change back into clothes. When she was done, she picked up a toy telephone, and said, "hello, Grand Rapids? Can I please have a pet chicken?" And then she hung up, laughing.

Friday, July 08, 2011


This has been in my drafts folder since July.  I'm publishing it in hopes that it shows up in the July archives.  I don't want to relive the day, and don't want to make others either.  I hope this just quietly slips into the archives.  Someday, I'll want to reflect on the awfulness.

Yesterday, during the time that most of our sidewalks are filled with kids doing chalk or bubbles or ridding their bikes, our street was silent. We heard sirens and helicopters outside. Inside, I had the kids in the basement for a while, and the news anchors were trying to make sense of a man killing 7 people he knew in two different homes. He drove downtown and opened fire. He drove on the highway with police chasing him. He took his car to the other side of the highway, endangering drivers there. He kicked his way into a random house and took three hostages. Eventually he let them all go and shot himself in his head. You can read a summary here.

It was chaos, and it was terrifying, it was maddening. He had the whole city hostage when we didn't know where he was. And then the whole city glued to reports when we knew he was trading the life of a hostage for Gatorade. "How will this end?" I asked my self, wringing my hands.

It's so senseless.

He was bi-polar, friends said, and not taking his medication. He had a significant criminal history.

My city, which recently made world-wide news from the lip dub was now on CNN for a very different scene on the street.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A few days ago the four of us were at Mr. Sinki's sister's birthday party, which also happened to be their annual pig roast (whoooo! vegetarian at the pig roast!). It was a lot of fun to watch Willa and Henry run around with their cousins, and enjoy the trampoline and cake and glow necklaces. It was fun to watch them play with kids they didn't know.

While they did this, I met new people. There was the Polish woman who loves to shop and has a new boxer puppy. And the dad who was nervous as he took his young son to get a hair cut with very specific written instructions from his wife.

And then there was this woman who I kind of enjoyed talking to, but was - way in the back of my mind - irritated with her at the same time. It wasn't until doing some party debrief with Jim that I figured out why. She has 2 kids that are roughly my kids' ages. One started school last year, and they opted to send their child to an excellent school in an outside district using the School of Choice option. Fine, okay, good for them. But then she kept talking: "you should move to our Riverside Park neighborhood; it's wonderful." And, "you should send your daughter to X school district, it's terrific." Got it. But she kept going, and I started thinking she thought she was the boss of me. And she is not.

I get that everyone does their own thing. She's happy. Thumbs up. But she was so darn... smug. "Don't move out of the city! Send your kids to the suburbs for school!" I tried telling her that it was important to us that we live in the community (dare I say neighborhood) where our kids go to school without starting a debate. "We love living downtown, we bike downtown!"

Sigh. She was smug, but it's interesting when you meet someone who shines a spotlight on something you're wrestling with, isn't it?

I love living in the city of Grand Rapids. I love the idea of public education, and the democracy that comes with it. Both the city and public education have been idealized in my head and heart, and I'm aware of that.

Our kids are getting older, and we've struggled with every option on the table:
-stay in a cramped house and send the kids to GRPS, hoping they'll qualify for the magnet programs offered in GRPS.
-stay in a cramped house and apply for schools of choice. Wrestle with transportation every day.
-stay in a cramped house and put the kids in private school - HA! No, that wasn't really on the table.
-stay in a cramped house and send the kids to Charter Schools - not really an option for us either for political reasons.
-do not stay in a cramped house, and move to a place with better schools.

That last one seems best for us. But strangers at parties can't seem to let that go.

For another day: where, ideally, will this less cramped house with better schools be? I dunno. Today Willa and I pet baby goats and chickens at the zoo. This started daydreams of a house with more space inside and out. Three hens and two goats. A huge garden... Fruit trees...

What do you think? Could Camp Sinki turn into Sinki Farms?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Perfect summer day

Things look different here, don't they? Yeah... the site changed the design to a desert-scape, and I couldn't find the original template again, so now we're all vernal and green.

Yesterday we all got in the car, got out at Townsend Park, and ate a picnic lunch while listening to some raptor baby squawking for lunch. We also spent time wadding in a stream catching minnows, playing Uno on a blanket, and walking in the woods. Henry and I climbed a steep slope. Willa spotted a Butler's garter snake. Jim pointed out mole tunnels.

Then we drove north more and looked at Wabasis Park. We ate dinner on the deck of the Clifford Lake Inn (which is said to be haunted). We ended the day with an ice cream stop on the way back home.

When the car was unpacked, Willa and I caught fireflies in the front yard.

It was only 10 hours, but it felt like a vacation.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Celebrating Jim

On Sunday, I finished my school paper at about 3 pm. Jim took the kids to his parents' house for swimming and celebrating Father's Day with his family. I joined them, and got the run down on what the kids picked out for Grandpa for a gift. They got some sauces for ice cream. And some toys for the pool. And milk. Henry demanded that milk be gifted to grandpa. Why? "Because it's funny."
Anyhow, we swam. And swam. Then we went to dinner, and then a walk at a park that is less than a mile away from our house and full of frogs and deer. I caught a frog, Willa held it. Then Willa, my child freaks out when she sees an ant caught a frog.
Then this happened:

And then we went home.

I'm so lucky to be parenting these kids with Jim as a partner. He is tough when I am weak. He is gentle with them when I am ready to pack them up for the Gypsies. He hides with me behind a shut door to laugh our fool heads off over the zany things these to miracles/monsters do and say.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Around the house

We at Camp Sinki are in full summer mode. Look at that chalk line! A cluster of 5 kids made that, stretching 4 houses. And who needs some lettuce? Mmm....

Doesn't this look like a sweet lil' neighborhood? Buy our house now, and get all the produce that ripens later. Yup, our house is still on the market. It's been less than 2 months, and we've had 7 (I think) showings. Not bad. Our realtor said that June has been slow for the whole local market, and not just our home.

We did find a house that we loved. So much that I actually had daydreams about our life there. The house had 4 bedrooms and more than one bathroom! There was a garage, and a huge pole barn, and a little guest house. I was in the middle of thinking about having a flock of three hens and a "play room" of my own for reading or sewing or not having to hear "MOM!" every minute of the day when I got an email from our realtor saying that it was priced so low there were 4 offers in the first three days, and there was already a contract. Sigh... did I tell you that behind the huge backyard was a city park? I know, I know... we mourned a little. But, onward!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dear Dad,

I just finished a paper and emailed it... 2 hours before the deadline. I know that my tendency towards procrastination drove you up the wall when I was in high school. I promise, this time it wasn't my fault. We had only 24 hours to write up 2 sizable reflection papers.

I wanted to let you know that I'm thinking of you today. I'll call you later, but wanted to get something down here.

I was remembering today when I was young, and the Tigers were in the pennant race. A lot of the games ran much later than my bed time. You and I worked out a system where, if I came into the bathroom in the morning and found 2 toothbrushes on the counter, they won. If there was only 1, they lost. Funny memory, eh?

I want to thank you for humoring me in my youth - I know now it would have also made sense to leave a note or... just ask mom while getting ready for school. But you respected my idea, and maintained our secret system through the whole post season playoffs. I remember you tearing up a little when the Tigers won the whole deal that year. And going downtown in the van to be a part of the community celebration. Just being there.

Respect of new ideas, showing emotion, a sense of community, and a life-long dedication to the Tigers... yeah... I got those from my dad.

Happy Fathers Day, Dad.

Now, I will go find my husband who has celebrated his day by taking the kids out of the house so that I could finish my school work. What a guy!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Okay... take 8... 9...

Now I understand why there are very few great photos of me and my three siblings.

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up north photos

It's the middle of June?! What? It seems like just a few days ago that I took these. Here are the photos from our up north tour. In the photos, you'll see the kids at the Arnold docks and with some horses on Mackinac Island. Also, two best pals walking on the dock at Higgens Lake, Henry and Grandma at Nibbles (yay Nibbles!), our crazies IN a pretty chilly lake, and my mom and dad enjoying some down time up north. Also there's a pink peony from our garden. These bloomed just before the trip. So beautiful!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Travels and a new friend

Last week, we spent some time roaming the top 1/3 of Michigan's mitten. Petoskey overnight (Hey, pals the Super 8 there has a 24 hour pool, a terrific breakfast, decent, clean rooms, and a beautiful view of the bay. All for under $60.), and then we dropped Jim off at the docks of Mackinaw City. The kids and I went to Higgens Lake where my parents let us hang out with them. The next morning, Jim was done with his annual conference, and we joined him on the island*. All of the Sinki's spent some time on the island, hiking the back paths, rather than spending much time in the disnified area nearer the docks. That's when this happened:

Cute lil' guy. The absolute nutjob who lives in my head and wants to bring every animal home with her was tempted to tuck baby squirrel into her sweatshirt pouch. The saner part of me won that arguement.

Please excuse the camera work: Jim took the video with Henry on his shoulders. Henry, as you might hear, is concerned about Jim standing on the grass. He has a new concern about poison ivy, and is certain that anything green is the dreaded allergen. You won't hear much from Willa. She was mostly breathless and hoping that the critter would go to her shoe next(so she might be able to hide it away in her pocket, and nurture it to adulthood and beyond). She is her mama's girl.

From the island, we drove south to the cottage again. We raked leaves, walked to the beautiful lake, had ice cream at Nibbles, took a long drive to find deer (found none - eerie), read, played Skip-bo, did puzzles, and I made the best campfire in the history of all campfires. The weather was weird, but the company was swell. Thanks (again and again) to my parents for letting us stay there. Photos to follow on another day.

* I must confess here that the ferry to the island terrifies me. I know - well, my brain does - that nothing is going to happen - but when it's just me and the kids heading to the island to meet Jim, I battle visions of the boat going down. Who will I put the life jacket on first? How will I manage to get both kids out of the boat when it goes underwater? Just typing this makes me realize that it's irrational. But most fears are, eh?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Kindergarten Roundup

She held my hand tightly as we entered the building. She acted like it wasn't a big deal, so I followed suit.
We walked out an hour later, her still holding my hand, but skipping now, too.
In between I filled out a lot of paperwork, and we met Mrs. Black, who gave us a personal tour of the whole school.
Later, she talked about the library and the computers, the butterflies in a classroom, and the small tables.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Great curb appeal, but a few things...

On Tuesday, our realtor and her whole office walked through our house to give us feedback. Yesterday we got the report. Basically, they suggest we make about $3,500 worth of remodel/fix up (including a new shower surround, repainting the less neutral walls, getting a dishwasher...). Also, they suggest we lower our asking price by about the same. So, we have their suggestions, and will have to take a look at what we're going to do with them.

I know that it's probably in the realtor's best interest to get our house off of her load quickly, and move onto another. Right?

I'm hoping my skin toughens up quicker, this is kind of brutal.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Delaney! Easter! Caterpillars!

Uncle Bill and Aunt Jackie are now parents to beautiful Delaney Grace. We hope to meet her sometime this week. Delaney was born on April 29th. Welcome to the family, sweet girl, and the world. It's nice to not be so alone at the end of April on the birthday list. Here's how the maiden Sinki family calendar looks:

1 - we remember Grandma P
6- Willa

7 - MaKenna

13 - Lisa

18 - Mom

27 - Amy

29 - Delaney

For Willa's birthday present, Uncle Bill and Aunt Jackie gave Willa the complete Ramona book collection (LOVE) and the Butterfly Garden kit. We put our order in, and 7-10 days later, a small box was atop our mailbox.

I opened the box, and took a photo (left)of the 5 tiny caterpillars. Willa was - instantly - in love. Then we left them for a few days to visit my family for Easter. We got back, and were amazed by how much they had grown in 3 days! The last photo was taken 10 days after they arrived. Giant! This is the last day they were all caterpillars together. Hours later one was already a chrysalis.

Speaking of Easter... here's a few photos of that: Lisa brought the dye and the eggs. 4 dozen was more (way more) than plenty for 3 kids and 2 "grown-ups."

Lisa goes big for the holidays, though. And it was fun.

Now we have 5 chrysalis who I moved to their new quarters. In about a week, we should see 5 Painted Lady butterflies. This has been fun, but do you KNOW what happens when they turn? I always thought they spun a blanket of silk around them to do their changing in a more private environment. Nope. They just kind of harden off, change color and texture, and then... their heads and first few set of feet fall off. Not pretty.

In the photo above, you should be able to find 4 chrysalis, silk the caterpillars spun to aid in their transportation about the cup, a DETACHED HEAD (I still have the willies), and a slowpoke caterpillar with a fully attached head.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

first showing, my birthday, very large beer

So... today was odd. Before I type anymore, I'll share with you that I have consumed 1/2 of a Long Island Iced Tea and a giant Dos Equis (so... a quatro equis or so).

At just after midnight, dear Jim came into the bedroom, where I was starting to re-read Anne Lamott's Plan B (Have you read it? You should.). He glanced at the clock and said, "hey! Happy Birthday." I grinned, sighed, and snuggled deeper into the comfy bed.

This morning, Willa got to school without incident. On the way, I asked her if she knew what today was. She said, "uh-huh. It's picture day. And show and tell. And your birthday. And someone is coming to look at our house tonight." I waited. And cleared my throat. And waited. Finally, she said, "oh! Happy birthday, mom!"

Henry and I went to the fabric store. We picked out fabric so I could make a curtain of sorts for the area that houses our garbage can and dog food. Henry sang "happy birthday" several times... Tra, la la... it was starting out to be a great day. We got home and I went to the basement to switch laundry around.

And then I saw what I thought was just a trickle of water, which I later upgraded to a wee spring. It was a stream. It's been raining a fair amount for several days, and our basement got wet. A rare occasion. And, of course we had our first showing tonight at 8.

I'm going to skip the many hours I spent, and later Jim shared, mopping up and cleaning the rest of the house. Because that's boring. I'm tired. He's tired. Onward.

So we went to Little Mexico for my birthday dinner. I had my favorite vegetable burrito. And drinks. The kids gave me a sweet blue glass beaded bracelet while we were there.

We got home and Jim gave me another gift. And that's what I'm typing on now.

So, our house looks fantastic. I had a great dinner with 3 of my favorite people. I got some terrific presents. And I'm a little tipsy.

36 is going to be great!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


My buddy and I went for a walk at the Calvin College Nature Preserve this afternoon. There was also an entire middle school there, so... not so quiet. We did manage to find one trail for our own. We sat on the dock at the pond and talked about how a red winged blackbird sounded like he was looking for "Maria." We walked on. I heard a small rustle, and saw a little snake. The snake wasn't scared. Henry wasn't scared. Just for the record... neither was I. We sat on the ground and watched the snake watching us. Then we stood up, and walked away. Henry slipped his hand in mine and told me, "I'm glad we went for a walk inda woods."

Friday, April 08, 2011

Five years old

Willa, you are five years old. On the day you were born, you snuggled into my neck as I held you and lifted your head to coo. On your birthday two days ago, you hopped onto your new red, shiny scooter and had it mastered in a few minutes. You amaze me. You delight me.

Your 5th birthday happened to coincide with Sinki family cabin fever and dad's vacation time. So, up to Traverse City we went. In the morning, you woke up in the hotel with mom's premade, frozen, and then microwaved pancake breakfast in bed.

And then a brief photo shoot.

Followed by a few presents:

Followed by a trip to the TC kid's museum where you got to dress up and have hens:

We also walked on the beach right outside our room:

You and Henry flew kites with Dad's help:

We took a little drive to Leeland, where the only fish we saw were an inch long and crammed hundreds in a square foot:

There was a lot of swimming in the pool, and fun at meals out, and few, but sweet quiet moments in the hotel room.

You are five now. On your first full day of five, we visited Old Mission State Park and the four of us walked on the beach. In the past few months, you've been fearful of new things. Falling down or not doing things right worry you. I was so, so proud of you when you followed me out to the tip of the rocks to put your fingers in Lake Michigan. You are growing up. And while I'm sad that it's happening so quickly, I'm pleased that you're becoming stronger and bolder while maintaining your sweetness, your compassion, your smarts, and your humor.

Every day, I am grateful for the gift of being your mom.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Tripping on love

When Willa was a small baby she cried more than most other babies. There was a 2 month period when she was inconsolable between the hours of midnight and 3 am. During those times, Jim and I took turns trying everything in our shallow bag of new parent tricks to soothe her. She had a crib mobile that played a song I had never heard before. After pacing the floor and bouncing her in my arms for an hour, I started humming it, and then making up lyrics. Mostly to remove my brain from the reality of the crying baby. Tonight, Willa asked me to sing her that song. I took a breath in, "mama loves you, and daddy loves you and Henry loves you (this is a rewrite to keep up with the times), and the dogs love you, and we're so happy that you are here with us, oh, our beautiful Willa." She grinned, rubbing her cheek on her pillowcase. "Mama, when you sang that all of those people love us, it felt like I was in all different colors." That baby will turn five years old on Wednesday.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Signs of Spring

Today, the Tigers play the Yankees, happy opening day, friends. Our bird feeder is the social hub for the neighborhood finches. We've got at least 2 pairs of Goldfinches and one pair of red House Finches. At one point there were 5 birds perched on the 9 inch long bag feeder we have hanging from the kitchen window awning. One of them has started perching on the screen of the window, right in front of where I'm typing right now. My crocus flowers are past their prime, and I noticed 2 dwarf hyacinths blooming at the side of the house. Hey, last year version of me: thanks for planting those butter yellow crocus bulbs. This year's version of me forgot, and was pleasantly surprised to see them. There is no snow visible, save the odd parking lot mountains that are now lesser mountains. I hear people outside more. The kids have spent brief outings chalking the sidewalks. I don't think we've hit 50 degrees yet, so they come it with cold, chalky fingers. I am very, very excited to pack away winter coats, hats, mittens... hopefully we won't see them until we move. And speaking of moving, a for sale sign will sprout from our yard next month as well.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

She thought she could, she thought she could...

The kids and I were cooking. In a show of good faith, I asked Willa to pour two cups of milk from the glass measuring cup into the bowl. She grinned, took hold of the handle, and... sat there. She took a deep breath, looked up and said, "I know I have to just believe in myself, and I will be able to do it."
She did.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Harsh punishment

I've been meaning to record this for a few weeks...

A while ago, all four of us hopped in the HHR to get supplies for HQ. We were grocery shopping at Meijer, and Jim and Henry drifted. Willa was concerned.

"That probably wasn't a good idea, was it mom?"
"It's okay, we'll find them in a minute."
"But dad should probably have a consequence* to making that bad choice, shouldn't he?"
"What kind of consequence do you think is appropriate, Willa?"
"Um...." she said, while thoughtfully scratching the bridge of her nose, "well, um... maybe something like not letting dad sleep with you for a few nights?"

I congratulated myself for not laughing myself into a puddle. Meanwhile, she made plans for Jim and the couch.

*We've been talking a lot (A LOT) about choices and consequences in these parts. She's catching on.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

leprechaun hunting

Happy St. Patrick's Day, pals! Today the wee ones and I got dressed in our green (in light weight green - thanks nature for a nice, warm day!), and went out to Blanford Nature Center.

These two worked as a team. He would spot something, and she'd snap a picture. The maple sap is running, so we learned about the process from a kind volunteer. It was so nice to be outside in jackets. All streams were running faster with the melting snow. We saw a frog (early!) in the pond. The kids were giddy with outside-ness. Me too. Check out the snowdrops. Wheeee! Flowers.

At the end of our hike, we found that a tree had toppled onto the bench we usually take a photo on. The kids were instructed to look worried. Hee hee. Look at them selling it!
We came home and made twice-baked (green) potatoes, asparagus, and turkey and veggie burgers on the grill. Pistachio pudding for dessert. Jim was able to enjoy dinner with us before heading off to his Dale Carnegie class.

Last year, MaKenna and Lisa made us this nifty get-up. Fun again today!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chickens legal downtown - if they're rubber

Grand Rapids is hosting a big, funny party this month. Laughfest is a 10 day festival that will raise funds for Gilda's club. There are big comedy names coming. And small ones. Music and events. It all got started tonight.
Were you wondering about the world record for the highest number of people to gather and toss rubber chickens in the air? As of tonight, it's 925. The kids and I got downtown and joined the crowd just in time. There was a countdown and then we launched them.
Because we stayed on the outer edge, our chickens did not travel far, and we brought them home. Walking back to the car, we told chicken jokes. "Why did the 3 chickens cross the road? Because we're carrying them."
Kids, someday you might be parents. now you can impress them by saying you are part of a world record breaking event. Cluck, cluck!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Grad school update

I began my fourth class this weekend. Because of the weird format of this program, I'm also 1/3 of the way done with my fourth class. Strange, eh? I'm finding that having one class every 8 weeks, and meeting on 3 Friday evenings and Saturdays makes it go quickly. It's a speedy process, and kind of awkward to learn (and probably teach) so much all at once. I come back home in the early evening on Saturdays feeling fried. But so, so energized.

It's my "me" time. No spills to clean up or crayons snapping under foot. No anxiety about it being too quiet, no squabbles to referee. Not yet, anyhow, I imagine as our cohort of 17 progresses through the terms, there will be squabbles... I am so thankful for the opportunity to miss my children while I'm away.

So, I've finished classes on theory, school counseling, standardized tests, and I'm now knee deep in ethics. I've got a 4.0 gpa, and I'm having so much fun learning. The people in my cohort - we'll go through the whole program together - are compassionate, smart, and fun to be with.

I'm somewhat daunted by the awesome responsibility that I'll have as a professional counselor. On the other hand, I'm confident that I'll be pretty darned good.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

at the core

"Mom," she said, looking very serious, "I think my brain smells like rainbows."

She's probably right.

In other news, I'm in the middle of an intense/rapid job application process with the State of MI. Fingers crossed pals, okay?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

She got my teeth, and his humor

Willa has started telling jokes. Her own. They are long, and involve whatever is in the room that her darting eyes rest upon. They end with her cracking herself up, and me cursing the fact that genetics failed. Clearly, she's inherited her dad's sense of humor. Want an example?

"What did the... uh... uh.... oh! What did the monkey... say to the um... ball?"

And I have to play along. Even though I know that we're not going to land anywhere near making sense. So, I say, "I don't know what did the monkey say to the ball?"

This part she doesn't have to think about. Because of course the monkey would say the following to the ball: "You bounce up and down, and I'll go up in this tree, and pick a banana. And then I'll eat it."

This is very funny to her. She laughs so hard, her cheeks get red, her eyes get teary. And her look of accomplishment is so endearing and sweetly ridiculous, I crack up too.

I am pretty sure that all kids tell these kinds of jokes on their own. It's fascinating to watch someone learn humor and how to work a tough room.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The inevitable fall of Winter

When going down side streets, I've purposefully been hugging the curb. I've been stomping on the edges of snowbanks. I've had a tiny glint of evil glee in my eye for the past week.
I know that there's snow in the 5 day forecast, and I know it's only February. But LOOK.

Crocus reminds us that - even when the once "pretty snow"* gets grey and crusty - nature is still doing its job in the hard, cold ground. This picture was taken today. The kids and I are sick, and ventured out for a walk around the house, and then down the street 3 houses. That wore us out, but there was sun, and the sound of water trickling into storm sewers, and flower buds. Ah, the healing power of hope...

* I don't know... I hear some people saying it's pretty. I just can't see it.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


First, sorry for the little bit of sibling yelling there. It's just kind of part of their script. And don't be fooled by Willa's very pathetic look. She got her solo earlier.
Second, I am not driving here.
Finally. Kid's got some pipes, eh?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Doop a dee doo

I have become a chronic liar to my children.
Willa and I just finished reading "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." While at Target, she saw the movie (the new version*) on sale. $5. Okay. So... we watched it, Henry joined us.
Tonight at dinner I proceeded to tell my kids how I used to be an Oompa Loompa. I told them that I was in charge of the coconut room where we had monkeys wearing backpacks scaling the trees to harvest the fruit. And then elephants would crack the coconuts on large rocks. Then hermit crabs would scrape the fruit from the shell.
Gracious their eyes were huge.
I can't help it. It's fun to unlock their imagination. Also, it cracks me up that they might believe it. I'll set them straight... someday.

*This version didn't have creepy Oompa Loompas, and the boat in the tunnel scene didn't give me the creeps, but I like Gene Wilder better as Willy Wonka better.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Church Christmas Eve Service

Our Church has finally posted the Christmas Eve Service on their YouTube Channel. If that sentence alone doesn't tell you that our church is a little... different, check out the pageant. It's a modern day, Grand Rapids-based retelling of the Christmas Story. If you watch the angels, you'll find a familiar face among the angels. The service is in 3 parts. Willa is at ~ minute 1 in the first part. If you just want a quick glimpse of adorable little girls dancing, watch part two, from one minute on.

Part 1:

Part 2: (this is our video. This part was edited out. Watch from about a minute on. Willa is front and to the right.)

Part 3:

Part 4:

Friday, January 21, 2011

Support from his sister.

Henry's Big Boy Underpants Dance

Henry is ready - I think - for potty training. He knows when he needs to go, he doesn't like a dirty or wet diaper on him. He has the capability to use the toilet. Dude is just a little... distracted with everything else to be reliable.
I'm taking it easy on him, and trying the big boy pants only when we're home for a long stretch. Mixed results.
Today we were at the Meijer Gardens, and he yelled out, "I NEED to use the potty!" We ran. He went. Willa was impressed (even though he's been doing this for -on and off- about 5 months now).
We got home, and she asked if she could go get a penny from her piggy bank. She wanted to give it to Henry as a reward for using the toilet.