January 30, 2013


My apologies for taking so long to post!  We are recovering from a bout of croup (the kids had croup, Lucas and I are recovering).  It breaks my heart to see my kids sick, and then drives me crazy that even sick they have more energy than me.  I thought I wasn't posting because I didn't have any pictures (I have learned that taking pictures of sick kids just makes the grandmas sad).  Then I plugged my camera in to get a few pictures from the other day and realized just how long it had been since I had posted!  There were a ton!  I had already started writing this post (in anticipation of taking pictures), so I'm just going to throw in the many snapshots I took of our everyday life these past weeks.  Fitting, no?
Just before the Christmas Party, we picked up some new band-aids - one set of princess and one set of cars.  For the first 2 weeks of January, I would find them covered in band-aids like stickers.  Sadly, I only got this picture of Allie in one.  But for several days, whenever we went anywhere, I would be saying to people, "No, they aren't actually hurt.  They just like the pictures on the band-aids."
Favorite Toy: Train Table.  In fact, we thought that once there was one at home, he would lose interest.  Instead, he was more excited to go and play with the one at our favorite toy store - so that he could tell the trains there about the ones he had at home.  And we recently went to the Children's Museum and Ryan consistently went back to the train table (and the water table - another thing that we have at home).  Having a train table at home seems to have increased his love.
Favorite Show: Chuggington.  His passions are few and strong.  Trains are clearly at the top.
Favorite Phrase: "I am getting so grumpy!"  This one is probably my fault.  When I talk with the children about listening well, I tell them that when they don't listen well, I am more likely to be grumpy (and grumpy mommy is never fun).  So, at times when they weren't listening well I would say, "Guys, I am starting to get grumpy.  Let's try to start over."  Now, whenever something isn't going Ryan's way (he likes everything JUST SO), he will yell, "I am getting SO grumpy!"  At least he can communicate his feelings...
Favorite Place for an Adventure: The Toy Store.  I'm not sure any adventure will replace the spot where he first discovered his love for trains...
Favorite Snack: Cereal Bars.  Like a Nutrigrain bar (although we get a different brand).  He loves them.
Favorite Naughty Thing To Do: Scare his sister.  He loves to say, "Oh!  Did you hear that?!" because he knows it will send his sister screaming out of the room every time.  He gets in trouble for scaring his sister often, but he can't seem to help himself.
Favorite Helpful Thing To Do: Pick Up.  Being the kind of kid that likes things Just So, he is wonderful at picking up and putting things away.  Granted, if he is playing with his trains, it is like pulling teeth (strong, healthy, really-stuck-in-there teeth) to get him to do anything else.  But I frequently find him picking up a room or area just to help mommy.
One afternoon, I suddenly realized that the kids were too quiet.  I went into their room and discovered they had made reading tents out of their beds!

Favorite Toy: Siddeley, Helicopter, and Plump.  In case you need that decoded: Siddeley is an airplane (she has several, but she recently lost one outside when she decided to help him "fly."  He went up and never came down - a small, green toy plane stuck in an evergreen tree...), Helicopter should be self-explanatory (although her poor toy helicopter came from a garage sale already missing some pieces, and he is now so loved that I think he could be on his last legs), and Plump is a blimp (she doesn't actually have one of these - it is the one toy she wants the most for her birthday).  She plays with her Siddeleys, Helicopter, and imaginary Plump all day long.
Favorite Show: Wonder Pets.  She loves the music.  She loves the adventure.  She loves the cute animals.
Favorite Phrase: "This does not make me happy."  I'm not exactly sure where she got the idea that everything in life should make her perfectly happy, but she is quick to tell us when we, or anything, isn't making her happy.  Many times a day I find myself saying, "Allie, there will be a lot of times that you aren't happy about something, but YOU get to choose your attitude.  YOU get to choose whether you are going to stay grumpy and ruin your day, or whether you will accept it and make the best out of it and maybe have a lot of fun.  What will YOU choose now?"  She almost always chooses to be grumpy.
Favorite Place for an Adventure: The Children's Museum.  We just went the other day, and the kids are obsessed.  They have free days about once a month, so we will have to make a point of going more often.
Favorite Snack: Fruit snacks.  But not just any fruit snacks.  The dinosaur fruit snacks in the purple box from Aldi.  I have tried to buy other fruit snacks (more healthy ones, for example), and both of my children made it perfectly clear that everything else is "disgusting."  I like fruit snacks for church (they don't crumb and they keep the kids super quiet), so I keep buying them even if they aren't the most healthy...
Favorite Naughty Thing To Do: Make Messes.  This girl can turn the smallest thing into the most giant mess.  When she washes her hands, you can almost always expect the entire top of the sink to be covered in water, and anything near the sink to be dunked and soaked, and the water left running when she leaves.  She makes a mess with her food.  Her clothes are always a disaster at the end of the day.  I'm constantly asking her not to make a big mess, but she delights in the process.
Favorite Helpful Thing To Do: Cook.  She loves helping me cook.  She loves pouring and mixing.  She loves watching things in the oven turn into food.  Perhaps it goes along with making a mess - you dump some stuff together and mix it up and it looks like it will be a mess, but then it turns into yummy food!
A good friend gave us some Orbeez for Christmas.  The twins loved watching them grow, and then loved playing with them on our light box.
 Allie liked to line them up in the grooves on the lid of the light box.
 Ryan liked dumping them from one container to another (they bounce everywhere).
Favorite Topic of Conversation: Growing Up.  With their birthday around the corner, the twins have become obsessed with getting older.  Many times a day they talk about:
 -  What it means to be 4
"You get light up shoes,
and grow SO big,
and maybe get to chew gum,
and maybe my teeth will fall out."
They are also obsessed with gum and can't wait to chew it...someday...and one of their older friends lost her 2 front teeth right before Christmas and now they can't wait to lose theirs!)
 - When they will officially be a grown up
"When I am 6.
Or maybe 10.
But 10 is REALLY old, so I think probably I will be a grown up when I'm 6."
For the record, I asked them what "Really, REALLY old" was. They told me 20.  I asked them if they thought 30 was old and they told me it was "too, too old."  Thanks guys.
- What they will do when they are grown ups
drive a car
eat as much candy and cookies as they want
buy their own house
be so big they can reach anything
buy lots and lots of toys.
It is funny to me 1) what is very important to them right now and 2) that it is possible that they will actually do all of these things when they are grown ups.
- How sad mommy will be when they get older.
They think this is a funny game.  They have no clue how true it is.
We started making Valentine's.  I let them decide the recipient of each Valentine - with absolutely no input on my part.  I had to take pictures of some of my favorites of their choices!

I realize that they are at a point in their lives when minutes and hours and days seem to stretch out for eternity.  I remember dreaming about some of the same things when I was little.  I love how full of possibilities the world is for them, but it breaks my heart to know how quickly they will be "really, really old."  I am making an effort to savor each moment in time as they are excitedly wishing them away!
Dinosaur mania has overtaken our house.  In addition to playing WITH dinosaurs, and pretending to BE dinosaurs, we have taken to WATCHING our new favorite show - Dinosaur Train.  And then the twins thought it would be fun to make their own dinosaur train (below).

January 17, 2013

Swim Lessons!

One of my priorities, for the twins, has been to provide some sort of class setting where they learn a new skill set and get some physical activity.  Originally, TaeKwon Do provided that for us...until it abruptly ended a few months later...  We had a friend whose daughter had been doing swim lessons through the Y.  Since we live near a lake, it is important to me that the twins learn to swim as early as possible.  They've had swim lessons before, but I liked the idea of 1) lessons without me so they learn to be confident on their own and 2) year round lessons.  So we started lessons in the fall, and they have been a complete hit!
Their favorite game: Red Light, Green, Light.  They get to kick and splash the water on green light.  
Blowing bubbles.  They start each lesson with a song where they bob up and down and then blow bubbles or "disappear" (go under).
 Their level covers a variety of things.  Pool rules, how ti get in and out of the pool safely on their own, front floats:
They teach the kids to do a "thumbs up" when they are floating on their stomach, so the lifeguard knows they are okay.  My children have trouble with the thumbs up...here is the teacher, Miss E, trying to help Allie with her thumbs.

Back float:
They are still working on feeling confident that they won't sink...

And the thing that impresses me most, different strokes!  They teach the kids the basics of the front crawl, the breast stroke, and the back stroke.  I'm impressed with how much they work on the mechanics of the strokes with the kids so early on (it seems most often that the lowest level is all blowing bubbles, kicking, and getting comfortable going under with someone holding them).  In the next level, they start practicing the strokes with a pool noodle under their arms, and in the 3rd level they do it on their own.  They really get these kids swimming!
Ryan practicing his backstroke.
As, I've mentioned before, even though they keep it quite warm, the wet, waiting kids tend to start shivering.  It is now expected that Allie and Ryan will, at some point, be sitting like this.  Every now and then, Allie tries to bring the child sitting next to her into the warming cuddle.  Depending on who happens to be sitting there, sometimes they are thankful, sometimes they are not so thrilled.
The twins are actually in their 3rd session at this level.  While they have done a pretty good job of mastering the majority of the things required at this level, the one thing they would NOT do was go under water.  The teacher mentioned, during the first session, that they clearly were not used to being in the water.  At first that made me laugh - if she only knew how much time we spend in the water during the summer!  Then I realized that their fear might be partly my fault.  Nervous about trying to keep track of 2 children at the lake by myself, we often talked about how we never go in the water without our floaties.  We talked about how we can't breathe under water, and why it could be dangerous and why they needed to be safe and listen to my rules.  The result is that my kids are completely confident and swimming with their floaties, but were terrified without them.  We've talked and practiced in the bathtub (and the hotel pool) and talked some more and finally, FINALLY, they are starting to go under!  Even better, where once they were afraid of jumping in at all, now they are asking to jump without their teacher even catching them!!
Allie jumping in, notice the surprised face of Miss E!
She disappears!
Miss E said, "You went all the way to the bottom!"  The rest of the evening Allie kept saying, "I touched the bot-tom!"  All of the parents (many of whom have been with us the last few sessions and have seen their fear and reservation) cheered.  Allie turned to wave to the fans and give a thumbs up (which, of course, she can't do, so it was really just a fist in the air...).  During all the commotion, I missed Ryan jumping (also without the teacher catching him).
Coming back to the wall.  Miss E is so proud...and soaked from their splashes!
The progress this session (we are 2 lessons into a 7 lesson session) has been awesome to see.  Even better, they are loving swim lessons, and learning and trying new things, more and more!

January 13, 2013

The Greatest Show on Earth

We were lucky enough to be treated to a somewhat spontaneous trip to the circus with Nana and Poppy. It had been a while since we had been to the circus (and the twins don't even remember ever going), so they were pretty excited (or I was).  Once we told them, our days were filled with circus activity.  They practiced all kind of tricks and daring stunts that they were sure would qualify them to be a circus performer (like jumping from the 3rd rung of the bed ladder to their beanbag), they dressed up like clowns, they sang songs, and "tamed" stuffed animals, and did tricks on their bike.  We even babysat for a friend from church and they put on a whole circus for Baby K.  I seem to have instilled a love of themes in my children!

Finally, the day of the circus arrived!  They woke up extra early because they were so excited.  It was basically Christmas.  We joined the cousins and Nana and Poppy and headed over.  We were barely in the door before we were greeted by the same people they were dying to meet: clowns! (note: I was thrilled to discover my kids do not suffer from the common phobia of clowns).
This one was playing peek-a-boo with, and tickling, Ryan.
 D Surrounded
(I had to de-saturate this picture because the extreme amount of red practically burned the corneas...)
 H shaking hands.
After that, the kiddos were treated to a turn in the moon bounce.  The moon bounce was just across from a cage with a sign that read "Snake Photos," and we were all concerned for Nana.  It turned, however, that they didn't have a single snake.  Only 3 alligators.
Allie petting the albino alligator.
A quick group picture before the show
The cousins playing with the special swords they got as a present.
Finally, the show started (and I will confess it was one of the most challenging photo ops I have ever had due to the constantly changing lighting).  Ryan was pretty much mesmerized most of the time.  Allie got a little (or a lot) wiggly at times - it was a long time for her to sit still.  Regardless, they really enjoyed the circus, and had some favorite acts (although these favorites change pretty much every time I ask).
Allie's original favorite: the tigers!
Ryan's original favorite: the monkeys!
Of course, then it changed and Ryan's favorite was the tigers and Allie's favorite was the clowns.  And now Allie's favorite is the bounce house.  There were just too many favorites!
I didn't get a great picture of the acrobats on the trapeze, but I loved seeing their silhouettes in the light.  Very Peter Pan.
 The clowns (2 days later, I think the kiddos are finally starting to understand their jokes).
 The scariest act (for me).  They are hanging by his neck, toe-to-toe, with no nets.  I was terrified.
 The act that gave me a headache.  She is swinging by her hair!
MY favorite was the elephant - which wouldn't be a huge surprise to those who know of my love for elephants, except that this elephant was amazing.  He played the harmonica, trumpet, and drum.  He walked on a barrel, he walked across a (relatively) small plank, he balanced on his 2 front legs while on a rotating platform, and he skipped!  I was in love.
After the circus, I asked the twins what they would like to do if they were in the circus.  Allie said she would like to take care of the monkeys.  Ryan looked at me seriously and said, "Oh, no, mom!  I would never want to be IN the circus!"  Good to know I don't have to worry about at least one of my children running away to join the circus...

Thank you Nana and Poppy for a VERY fun day!!!