Yelling, Lie Telling and Nudity

I briefly mentioned in my last post that I try to blog mostly about all the happy moments I want to remember and look back on – but sometimes it’s good to let all the rest of you moms out there know that I’m totally barely hanging on by a thread most days too. I feel exhausted, frazzled, outnumbered, under appreciated, and pray I survive until bedtime most days. I seem to never know what’s for dinner even though I’m in charge of making it. My kids fight, scream, bicker and whine. I’ve been terrible about yelling across the house at my kids to get them to obey ANYTHING I’ve asked lately. To top it off, I got puked on today. Not just a little spit up… I’m talking about a fountain of projectile vomit all over my hair, shirt, shorts, dripping down my legs and all over the floor and wall within a 3-foot radius of where I was standing.

I looked around for my mom and realized again that I’M THE MOM.

OH. MY. GOODNESS. GRACIOUS.  I stand frozen in shock trying to get my brain to function beyond my immobilizing disgust enough to figure out what to do next. I think to myself, should I set Charlie down and risk him crawling though his own vomit puddle and tracking it even farther than it already reached? If I move my feet I will track vomit with me. Maybe I should just stand here until Ryan gets home from work… in 5 hours. If Ruby comes in this room and sees what just happened she will FREAK because for reasons unknown to me vomit is the thing she is most afraid of in the whole world. I realize my three-year old is my only hope. In my calmest voice I call to her, “Clara, sweet Clara girl, can you please come in the kitchen and help mommy reeeeeally quick? Clara? Clara? HELLOOOOOOO? Clara?”

Ruby appears around the corner. “Mommy. What is THAT?!?” she asks pointing to the slimy liquid running down my arms and legs and dripping from my ponytail. “Well Charlie isn’t feeling good, can you just grab me that towel over there so I can stand on it to wipe off my feet?” “Mommy. Is that diarrhea?” she asks. I know I’m not supposed to lie to my children, but knowing what might happen if Ruby knew it was actually vomit made me respond, “Yes Ruby. Yes it is. Please stay away from it until I can get Charlie bathed off and come back downstairs to clean it up.” She tosses me the towel, I wipe off my feet and head upstairs to the bathroom.

A short while later Charlie is sleeping in his crib and I come down to clean up the mess. I’ve thrown all my clothing down the laundry chute and plan to run upstairs to shower as soon as I get the floor cleaned and a load of laundry started in the basement. The girls are disturbed that I’ve become a nudist and are asking me all sorts of questions while work on  getting chunks of gooey banana? toast? cheese? out of the carpet fibers. Ruby asks why I have to clean everything and I try to explain that it’s my job as a mommy to clean up messes sometimes. In her dramatic and exasperated way declares that she is “NEVER going to be a MOMMY, mommy.” and storms into the other room.

So there you have it. Having 3 kids in 5 years has turned me into a yelling, lie-telling, nudist who may never have grandchildren.

How was your day?

Week at Cox Cottage

IMG_4161Last month was awesome. Ryan finished his job in Columbus at the end of June and didn’t  start his new job in Grand Rapids until August – so we pretty much had the time of our lives together in July. It was a daily decision each morning whether we should work on unpacking boxes and getting our new house in order or if we should have fun with the kids… and we decided to just have fun. Even though I’m currently typing this blog among unpacked boxes I know we will never regret the fun times we had making memories together as a family.IMG_3707

The beginning of our week at Cox Cottage was a tad brisk, so we spent the mornings bundled up, taking walks and riding bikes. Clara refused to wear sweatshirts and jackets because “princesses don’t wear those.” Ha! By the afternoons the sun was shining and we were on the water.

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One of our favorite things about the lake is parking the pontoon on the sandbar and floating around. Charlie has never been happier than when Ryan was swishing him around in the water. IMG_3681This was the first year the girls were old enough (and brave enough) to get out and walk around by themselves. Clara was cracking me up seeing how far away from the boat she could walk.IMG_3934

Ruby is the queen of collections. She worked very hard everyday adding to her collection, which included shells, dragonfly exoskeletons, snails, seaweed, bugs, algae slime, leaves, lilly pads, rocks and even some peanut shells. It was a very smelly collection by the end of the week. Thankfully her nose agreed and she did not request that we take it home in the van.

IMG_3972One afternoon Ruby and Clara were exploring the shallow water near the dock, the “swamp water” as they called it, and Ruby found a bluegill. She meticulously stalked closer and closer to it until she was close enough to reach out to touch it. SHE DID! She was so excited that she touched it, she thought she’d see if she could hold it. Of course, I was happy to let her try. A few minutes later I heard screaming and saw out of the corner of my eye that she had indeed grabbed it with her hands. It flipped out and poked her in the leg with its fin, which turned her excited squeals into terrified screams of horror, “IT GOT ME! IT BIT ME ON THE LEG!!!!” After she calmed down I explained that it probably thought she was a predator. She said, “ok mom. I’ll just work on my collection instead.”
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Clara explored under the dock and I had to pull more leaches off her legs than I’d like to share with you. I want my blog to be mostly good memories you know.  ;)

IMG_3957IMG_3633IMG_4094 IMG_4131More scooter and bike riding, some Twister, and a bath in the sink for Mr. Charlie Boy.IMG_3638IMG_3642IMG_3662IMG_3961

We went out for pizza one night and on the way home we drove past a massive Paul Bunyon statue. We were laughing so hard we had to stop and take a pic. When we got back in the van Ruby exclaimed, “THAT WAS THE BIGGEST ADVENTURE OF MY LIFE!”IMG_3914

Going places as a family seems to get more fun every year that the kids get older. I like going places and doing things. My favorite thing in the whole world is getting to spend time with Ryan. So thankful for our week together at Cox Cottage.IMG_4087

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Charlie’s 1st Birthday

You guys, seriously. I really can’t wait to dust off the ol’ bloggy blog and catch you up on all the shenanigans since last time I posted. To sum it up, we bought a house, moved to Michigan, celebrated Charlie’s 1st Birthday, spent a week at Cox Cottage, Celebrated out 10 Year Anniversary, took a quick weekend getaway to Northern Michigan with the kids, had one trip to the Emergency Department, Ryan started his new job and now we are getting ready for Ruby to start Kindergarten and Clara to start PRESCHOOL!! Ahhhhh! To say we’ve been busy is an understatement, but we are so happy to be getting settled in our new place and rhythm.

Charlie's 1st BDAY  070214 7 blogSo let’s begin, shall we? CHARLIE TURNED ONE on July 2 and we had our first big gathering of family at our new place! The backyard turned out to be the perfect location for all of Charlie’s cousins (7 babies/toddlers) to enjoy copious amounts of birthday cake and ice cream.Charlie's 1st 070214 CAKE KYLE1 blog

Having a boy – a one year old boy is not for the faint of heart. Charlie crawls around so quick it makes my knees hurt. He loves eating anything in his path, taking his pants off, pushing buttons on theTV  remote, opening the lid and splashing in the toilet water, unrolling the entire toilet paper roll, taking my soup cans out of the cupboard and rolling them around the house, drinking from any sippy cup/juice box he comes in contact with (in our home, the homes of other people, playgrounds, etc.) knocking down the safety gate and climbing the stairs, tackling anything (or anyone) soft and squishy, playing with trucks, balls, books, wheels, and anything sticky or gooey. He wants the opposite of whatever is happening at any given time – If he’s being held he wants down, if he’s down he wants up, if he’s outside he wants to come in and if he’s upstairs he wants to go down. He loves playing chase with his sisters, waves hello and goodbye at all the wrong times, says “mama, dada, truck, uh-oh, and I know what he is trying to communicate when he’s “all done” wants to go “out” or wants me to pick him “up”. He’s smiley and friendly and wily and rowdy and clever and mischievous… he’s a boy.Charlie's 1st BDAY  070214 1 blog

Back to the birthday party… IMG_3095Ryan grilled an amazing lunch for everyone to enjoy. I know you’re not surprised. He’s pretty much the best at everything.Charlie's 1st 070214 Bro KYLE1 blog

Sarah and Kyle brought Charlie’s twin cousins Ellen and Abbie to the party. Kyle was nice enough to walk around with a camera the whole time, which is why I have so many fun pics to share with you. Thanks Kyle!Charlie's 1st 070214 Sarah KYLE1 blog

Even my amazing Granny and Papaw, Charlie’s Great Grandparents made it up for the celebration!IMG_3165

Charlie's 1st 070214 PapawClara KYLE1 blog Charlie's 1st 070214 Granny KYLE1 blogThis picture accurately portrays Charlie’s true feelings about his first taste of birthday cake. I love him and all of his little boy shenanigans. Happy Birthday Charlie Boy. I’m so thankful I’m the one who gets to chase you around be your mama.IMG_3188

Rubyisms | HAPPY 5th BIRTHDAY!

IMG_0965Ruby Dawn (aka RubyDoo, The Rubester, Rubykins, Snicklefritz) is 5 years old. She loves sparkles and princess dresses as much as digging in the dirt or collecting bugs. She’s never met a person who she didn’t want to be friends with and will talk to anyone with a pair of ears. I love seeing her interests develop and especially enjoy her growing appreciation for true artists like Shel Silverstein and Jimmy FallonIMG_1626

To celebrate her birthday Ryan and I told her she could have a “yes” day at the zoo. Basically that meant she could ride the carousel, get her face painted, and eat Dippin’ Dots, which are all things we typically say “no” to. She absolutely LOVED her “yes” day. She took full advantage of the situation and added a $7 Camel Ride to her requests. ha!photo-99

Clara LOVED getting her face painted too.

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Ruby spends time each afternoon being “quiet and alone” while Charlie and Clara take their naps. Her “quiet and alone” time took a turn for the worst a few weeks ago when I found her in the bathroom trying to wash hot pink marker off of her arms. She thought she could get it off before I knew what had happened… but she was wrong. One thing is for sure, she is very thorough… and very right-handed.

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The night before Ruby’s last day of preschool she asked me to make her a checklist so she wouldn’t forget to say goodbye to anyone in her class. She loved preschool and is ridiculously excited to be a kindergartener in the fall! IMG_1514

I can’t post this update without mentioning that Ruby is friends with all the monkeys at our zoo. They seem to think she is one of them. Most days we are there at least one monkey will come sit by her or look at her or interact with her in some way. Its hilarious. Here are a few examples from recent weeks:IMG_0841IMG_0080 IMG_0279 IMG_0727 And of course, the most recent Rubyisms for your (and my) enjoyment.

  • “Ugh! All of this noise is destroying me!”
  • Proof that commercials work: “Mom, we should get Clorox. It really really really works! Even for muddy socks! It just gets out the stains! Isn’t that awesome?!?”
  • “I just won’t forget because I’ll use my brain as a thinking cap and it will just pop into my head but I can’t feel it when it pops into my head.”
  • Driving distances are typically measured by how many “Dora The Explorer” shows it will take to get where we are going. “But how much looooonger until we get there?!?!?” “Only 2 and a half more Dora the Explorers, Ruby.”
  • “I love you mom, I love you so bad!!”
  • When Ryan gets home from work Ruby often asks him, “Did you have any good cases today daddy?”
  • “Mom, I’m going over here if you please.”
  • “I have a hundred and forty five two germs. How much is that?”
  • When we go to new places where Ruby hasn’t been before she often wonders who will be there, specifically teenagers. “But mom, will there be teens there?”
  • “Thanks mom! You’re such a good cooker.” (I defrost Chicken Nuggets like a pro!)
  • “Mom, when we move to our new house are we gonna love it …or list it?” (I obviously watch too much HGTV during the kids nap times. ha!)
  • “Can horses have spots? Stripes? Pentagons? Squaragons?”
  • Ryan loves teaching her specific things that specific organs do. If you ask her what the liver does she responds, “It metabolizes drugs, makes clotting factors and makes bile.”
  • This afternoon she said to me, “Mommy, you look sooooo nice with your dress on. Isn’t that a nice thing to say?” Yes Ruby. That’s a nice thing to say.
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  • “This is God’s Holy Marble. It’s what makes Gods Holy Wind. It makes Gods wind cold and snow cold.”
  • “Mom, lets talk about something.”
  • “I love pink and every single body who loves me.”
  • “Mommy, you’re just destroying my fun!”
  • “I’m drawing a blue-horned cat.”
  • “That’s the town of Potbelly’s!!” (sometimes we go to Potbelly’s after church on Sunday’s and the girls always dance and talk to Darby, the girl who plays her guitar and sings.)IMG_0061
  • “I think my brother is sad because he doesn’t really have any friends.”
  • “I can’t go hiking today because it makes me so homesick!”
  • What started as “I’m blazin’ hot!” has been applied in many other circumstances including “It’s blazin’ rain!”
  • “I was like losing my mind when daddy took me to the Disney Store. I like lost my mind.” Ryan verified that yes, she did indeed nearly lose her mind in the Disney Store.
  • “Daddy, is Charlie old enough to eat Salmon?”
  • “Don’t worry Clara, tooth fairys are like soooo quiet. They’re like quieter than ever. You don’t even notice when they get your tooth.”

If you’d like to read more “Rubyisms” just type “Rubyisms” into the search box in the top right corner of my blog and all the past Rubyism posts will show up.IMG_9053

Happy Birthday Ruby Dawn. Clara, Charlie, Daddy and I love you so much and are so excited to have a front row seat to all the happenings in your life. Your smile makes everyone around you want to smile too and your enthusiasm for EVERYTHING brings so much joy to our family everyday. We love all the hilarious questions you ask and hope you’ll always continue talking to us about everything running through that active mind of yours. If “sparkly” could be used to describe a person, I’d say you’re the most sparkly person I know.

Happy Happy Happy 5th Birthday Sweet Girl.
Love, Mama.

Clara is Three Years Old!

IMG_0983Our Amazing Clara Dawn turned 3 on May 5th. She does all the ridiculously cute things that most toddlers do. We were outside the other day and she spent a good chunk of time trying to kick off her shadow. It was awesome. IMG_1147

Clara is bonkers about Charlie. She just can’t get enough of him. They play together all day – one of her favorite games to play with him is “chase” where she runs toward him then past him as he squeals with delight and crawls after her, then she runs back the other way and he “chases” her again. She told me that Charlie is her best friend. I love how she always says, “Hey Bud” to him and wants to be wherever he is.IMG_1302

She’s 35 lbs, 3 feet tall, and full of fire and ice. She has me scratching my head on a daily basis, searching for answers on how to parent her effectively, tearing through books with titles like, “Raising Your Spirited Child” and sighing with relief as I collapse on the couch at night after getting her tucked into bed for the 12th time each evening. IMG_0702

…but then she comes in to greet me each morning with this face and all is right with the world again.

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Clara is becoming a bit of a ham. She loves asking, “Have you seen this face?” then makes a funny face. At her 3-year checkup the pediatrician asked her to stand up straight, so Clara hunched over and chuckled quietly to herself. Then some nurses laughed, so Clara just stayed hunched over with a goofy smile on her face. Eventually she popped up straight enough for the nurse to get her height. I enjoyed seeing her realize she was funny.IMG_0671

I’ve never done anything more difficult that try to teach Clara to blow her nose. I know she will figure it out eventually, but for now, she just constantly sniffs and snuffs and asks “I need a tissue” very regularly. Once I give her the tissue she just wipes it on her nose, eye or cheek then throws it away. I try to get her to blow and basically she does the valsalva maneuver really hard until I think she might hurt herself. I don’t know why this is so frustrating to me, but it keeps me up at night. The good news is she will be really good at snorkeling in the deep water someday because she’ll be a champ at equalizing her ear pressure.

IMG_9766Clara is very particular about what she wears and the only way to get her clothed is if she thinks it was her idea. I can’t tell you the epic battles that have ensued over my desire for her to wear pants during the Polar Vortex and her desire to wear nothing at all. Now that it’s warmer outside, most days I just say,”pick out something to wear. I’m excited to see what you chose.” then I bite my tongue when she comes out of her room with some amazing ensemble. Thankfully, “beautiful princess dresses” are almost always ok with her – so we look like we just got off the pageant bus while we are strolling around Target.
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She’s a future foodie. Anything Ryan is eating, Clara says she loves. She will eat anything he gives her including sushi, spicy bbq chips, and anything she can dip in ketchup or ranch. If you ask her, “Do you like that Clara?” she typically responds, “I do. Really much.”IMG_9664

Clara loves her daddy so much. She lights up when Ryan gets home from work each day. She tells him all sorts of stories, sings for him, draws pictures for him, builds and feeds him Lego cakes, shows him her most recent dance moves, tells him jokes, and follows him around the house chatting away. She talks more to Ryan than anyone else. She says more in the hour he gets home than she does the whole rest of the day combined. It’s amazing. I love hearing her bubbly little voice when she talks to him.

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Other than when she’s talking to Ryan, these are her most frequent sayings:

  • Don’t say that!
  • Don’t dance by me!
  • Stop doing that!
  • Where’s Charlie?
  • Ruby is not being kind!
  • I need a tissue!
  • Where’s Daddy?

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I love you with all of my heart Clara Dawn. You challenge me to dig deep into motherhood and have expanded my heart in all sorts of ways I didn’t expect. You remind me of your Great Grandma Wandah Beeson in all the best ways. You make me smile and laugh everyday. I’m so thankful I get to be your mommy and I pray that you’ll discover all sorts of wonderful ways to honor God with your determination, drive, and hilarious personality.IMG_9287

10 Month Old Charlie AKA “Mr. Busy Pants”

IMG_9866I’ve carved out a few minutes to quickly update you on my Charlie boy. He is currently contained in his crib, which is the only reason I am able to write this post. Since Charlie became mobile my life has clicked into warp-speed. I took these pictures of A Polar Bear checking him out at the Columbus Zoo the day before he started crawling around. If it had been the next day, he may not have sat there so nicely for me.  IMG_8955

Charlie is into everything he shouldn’t be. Today I saved him from the small space between the couch and the table where he was trying to gnaw through the lamp cord. This morning he explored the bathroom trash can, the pantry, and spent a good amount of time trying to get under the fridge.photo-98

Everything is interesting. Everything is worth getting to. Nothing could be more amazing than whatever it is that could be hiding behind the toilet.photo-97

Ryan (my hero) saved Charlie’s life with the Heimlich Maneuver a few weeks ago when he choked on a puff during lunch at COSI. This kid would rather feed himself a burrito than have me spoon-feed him some baby food. The other night after dinner Ruby exclaimed, “Mommy, Charlie is a good helper because he eats everything off of the floor!” Yes Ruby. Yes he does.IMG_0336

Don’t tell the girls, but I’ve thrown away every Polly Pocket outfit that their dolls used to have – because he wants to eat them all. I’ve trained Ruby and Clara to help me know if Charlie has something in his mouth. The good news is that within the past couple of days he is doing less “swallowing” of things and more “carrying things around in his mouth like a dog would.” For example, we usually play on the playground at Ruby’s school after picking her up. It’s covered in bark – he will find a big chunk, put it in his mouth, and happily carry it around the playground for as long as we are there. That same, big, slobbery piece of bark is removed when we leave the park and everyone is happy. There may or may not be bark in his mouth in this pic.  IMG_0029

He’s the loudest of all my children. He happily squeals at a pitch that could break glass. I hope no one is talking to me right now because I am deaf and can’t hear them anyway.
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Charlie loves to pull up on everything and thinks its fun to stand by the stairs… until that one time he climbed up to the 2nd step and then dove head-first back to the floor. I put up a baby gate up that afternoon and experienced approximately 1.25 days of peace before he figured out how to open it. He thinks the gate is a fun toy I gave him; a puzzle of sorts.
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I did more “house-proofing the babies” than “baby-proofing the house” with Ruby and Clara… but I’ve been changing my tune now that I’ve got a small explorer – inspector – detective on my floors.IMG_0035

At his 9-month appointment (a month ago) he was 17.5 pounds, but my biceps and back are telling me that he’s at least three times heavier than that now.IMG_9001

I know he loves me so much – except for when I’m trying to change his diaper, then he wants to get as far away from me as possible.IMG_0462

Charlie is totally the guy everyone wants to have around. His sisters adore him. He’s fun. He’s happy to do whatever everyone is doing. He doesn’t complain much. All the ladies who volunteer in the nursery at church always want to take him home with them. I’m so happy I’m the one who gets to take him home.

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Rubyisms

IMG_8155Ruby is four and a half, loves her preschool teachers and is under the unfortunate assumption that if she squeezes cottage cheese, ranch dressing comes out. She could play in the bitter cold and snow for hours after everyone else has perished from frostbite on their internal organs. I think she’ll do just fine growing up in Michigan.IMG_6158

Here are a few funny things she’s said lately. I keep a list going on my phone because I want to have a word-for-word record of exactly how she says things. Hope you smile as much as I did as I was transferring my list into this post.

  • “When I’m a mom, can you give me directions to Toys R Us? Because I don’t know how to get there.”
  • At dinner one night, “Clara just nails ranch.” Yes Ruby, yes she does.
  • As soon as we get home from wherever we go each morning, she immediately strips off her clothes and puts on her princess dress. And “princesses do NOT wear socks mom!” no matter how cold the Polar Vortex is making our house.
  • “Penny Penny” has been her horse for years. A couple of weeks ago she renamed him “Torlight Sparkle” and only rides him side-saddle now.
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  • “A somersault takes you places you haven’t been before!”
  • She saw a commercial and told me, “You need to get Charlie some headphones so he can rock too.”
  • “Mom, let’s play a guessing game. What am I about to say?” I never win at this game.
  • “Mommy, where do magicians sleep when its nighttime?”
  • She counted to 188 this morning, but she skipped 31-99. I figured she’d do the same thing once she got to 130, but then she kept going 131, 132, 133 all the way to 188 and stopped. They must teach her things at preschool… or maybe it’s the iPad? It’s certainly not me.IMG_7744
  • One of the things we are working on is doing whatever the preschool teachers have planned instead of telling the teachers what the class should do each day. It’s been difficult for her. “But mom, we just didn’t make bracelets today!”
  • “I just can’t wait to grow up and read sentences!”
  • “Mom! Clara thinks termites are good for your body! UGH!!!”
  • “Mom, is Charlie a human?”IMG_6189
  • One thing that has helped me discipline Ruby lately is simply asking her “who’s in charge?” and helping her listen to and obey whoever is in charge. This is great when Ryan and I go on dates and I tell her “Caitlin the babysitter is in charge tonight.” or “Your teachers are in charge so you need to do whatever they say.” The other day on the way to church she told me, “Mom, you can do whatever you want today. I’m putting you in charge.” This is her twisted way of feeling like she’s in charge of who’s in charge.
  • “That good smell is just blocking my view.” From her car seat the new air freshener in the van was hanging in front of the Garmin. I had no idea she was looking at the map while we drive places. ha!
  • At the mall play place one day she was perching herself on top of all the planets and crazily peering down at kids below. I couldn’t figure out what she was doing, but after a while she came over and told me, “Mom, I saw two boys and I was watching over them because I am an angel!”
  • After preschool one day she said, “My friend Ryosei is Japanese. His family was made in Japan!”IMG_8281
  • Ruby is very much aware of what her siblings shouldn’t be doing. “Clara! Stop rubbing your string cheese all over the table!”
  • “You mean Heaven will be more beautiful than our house? But where will the mermaids be? What what will I wear in Heaven? Where can I swim? Can I bring some of my legos to Heaven? Mama, now lets talk about something else.
  • “Mom, Clara thinks termites are good for your body!”
  • “Look at me mommy! I look like a pickle!!”
  • “Mom, I just can’t handle my sister! Things are just not going my way today.”IMG_8299
  • The “Post Officer” is the person behind the desk at the post office.
  • Every time we drive somewhere, “Put your seat buckles on. Daddy, are your lights on?”
  • A “hanger” is anything you hold onto. The banister on the stairs, the handle on the stroller, my hair… etc.
  • “But 4th grade is for big kids, like giants.”
  • She has been praying out loud at night and it’s my favorite thing. “Thank you Jesus for all the things and everyone in the world and all the animals you have made and I just love what you have done. And I always will love what you have done here and I love you more than anything in the world. Thank you Jesus. I love you. Amen.IMG_8243
  • “Mom! Charlie put his own food in his mouth! He’s such a big magician!”
  • “I bet Charlie will know his name when he grows up!” She loves her Charlie Boy so much.

Speaking of Charlie, 9 times out of 10 when we drop Ruby off at school, she introduces Charlie to her teachers Mrs. Bailey and Mrs. Jacobson, “Would you like to meet my brother Charlie? He’s right here!” She also introduces us to all the new friends she makes at the mall play place every time we go there. Every few minutes she brings a new kid over to where I am sitting and she says, “I made another new friend named _____. This is my brother Charlie and this is my mom. Okay! Bye!” she says as she runs back into the mayhem.

IMG_5593Ruby Dawn is genuine and friendly and delightful. I’m so thankful I get to be her mommy and pray everyday that she’ll keep those qualities as she grows up.

Claraisms

IMG_6142Sweet Clara Dawn is 2 and a half, loves to sing and dance, twirl in circles, taunt her older sister, hug her little brother, get ticked, act older than she is, collect tiny things, loves Doc McStuffins and giving people “a checkup.” She’s sweet as pie and super feisty and mischievous all rolled into one. Just look at her face!IMG_7823

She adores Ryan. Follows him around, talks to him all the time, asks about him every morning when she wakes up, and gets all excited every night when he comes home from work. Here she is helping her daddy make pancakes on Saturday morningIMG_6420

  • She has the absolute cutest way of saying “my brother ‘Cholly'” when she talks about “Charlie.”
  • She pushes Ruby over then asks, “are you OK Ruby?” Ruby is so dramatic, a tiny push from Clara becomes a full on fainting roll to the floor with sobbing and flailing of limbs. No wonder Clara likes to push her!
  • After I tuck her in at night and say prayers she always wants a kiss and a high-five. If I forget to give her a high-five she will come downstairs and request that I come up and give her a high-five. Once she’s had a high five she can go to sleep. Not so funny at 2am when she’s breathing on my face quietly requesting a high-five.IMG_5760
  • One Saturday we went to the mall so I could do some shopping while Ryan stayed at the play place with the kids. Apparently Clara walked around the whole time crying, “Where is my mother?” and, “I need my mother” over and over. This led to a number of parents being concerned that he mother had left her alone in there. Little did they know, Ryan was standing right there beside her the whole time she was crying for her mother.
  • “If we get wain in ouw jammies, that will take forever. When it wains, we can wear our wainjackets. When the sun goes up it will go up! Just a second! The sun is gonna go up!”
  • “I think my brother likes to sit on the table.”
  • She refused to sit in a booster seat, but loved to stand on it, so we switched her to a full size chair. She likes it.IMG_5820
  • “I have a pocket!” One of the best discoveries in any outfit she is wearing. Unfortunately, she also refuses to get dressed in anything other than jammies or her princess dress lately.
  • Daily questions, “Is it night time? Is it going to wain today? Is it getting dark outside?”
  • “Crackers are good for your body!”
  • “Look at she!”
  • “He is so tall! I can kick really tall!”
  • She always says, “Thanks mom!” for all sorts of funny reasons.
  • During dinner the other night she said, “We have strong muscles to get noodles into our bodies, but you have to chew it up.”
  • During our last drive to Michigan we stopped at a gas station and I let the girls stretch their legs… in the van since it was sleeting and freezing out. Clara loved being out of her seat. It’s the little things.IMG_7844
  • Her hair is still amazing. The sides grow like wildfire and the back has never been trimmed. It’s like a swirly, curly, crazy new hairdo every morning. I still haven’t figured out which direction to comb it.
  • Clara talks more to Ryan when he gets home from work than she talks the whole rest of the day. It’s amazing. It’s like she stores it all up for him and tells him stories non-stop for as long as he will listen. Ryan, of course, loves it. I think she already realizes that she and her daddy are basically the same personality. I’m glad she feels “understood” by him because I certainly can’t give that feeling to her.
  • Lastly, she is always “ice skating” around our house on the rings from Charlie’s toy. She told me, “bye-bye mommy, I’m just ice skating to the pool.”IMG_8088

Cox Family Christmas

We arrived in Grand Rapids late Friday night after driving through some serious fog and rain. Saturday morning the girls woke up SO EXCITED to see their cousins Ellen and Abigail. Clara LOVED helping to feed “the baby cousins” and Kyle took these fist two pictures with his fancy new camera.12-28-2013 Vacation to Florida-44 12-28-2013 Vacation to Florida-103

We woke up the next morning to the beautiful sight of everything outside covered in a layer of ice. Then we realized the ice storm had knocked out the power at Ryan’s parents house. It was really beautiful… and a little bit chilly, but we survived a couple of days living pioneer style. (pioneers got to go out for pizza, right?)IMG_7262 Thankfully, we were all ready for the adventure and had friendly neighbors who used their camping stove to make a pot of coffee for Ryan, Chris and Dad. Sarah fed the babies over candlelight.IMG_7234IMG_7233 IMG_7247

The ice storm didn’t stop us from venturing downtown to get some MadCap coffee with Chris and his friend Josh who had flown home from Malawi to surprise his parents. So fun.IMG_7242

Isn’t East Grand Rapids so lovely? Look at the way those trees are holding hands over the street. Love it.

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One day we went to Breton Village Mall to see the train set. The girls were mostly interested in these goldfish. Can you tell by Ruby’s hand that she was calling them to her?

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Our friends Bryant and Becky were in town visiting Becky’s family and had a couple of hours to meet us for lunch at Cherry Deli. It’s always so fun to catch up with our Hope College friends. If you’ve ever heard Bryant or Ryan laugh, you’ll know it’s quite a treat to be there when they are cracking up about something.

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We saw our friends Lana and Hans from Columbus at the Christmas Eve service. My friend Lacey’s in-laws live in Grand Rapids. So fun to see her over break.

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After the Christmas Eve services at church we drove down the “Woods” streets that are always lined with paper lanterns on the night before Christmas. It’s so beautiful. I keep thinking the kids will be old enough to love it, but mostly Ruby just continually asked from the backseat why were were on the wrong road and “this isn’t the way to Nana’s house!” and “But we are going the wrong way!” Ha.

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Christmas day included a delicious ham which Ryan carved for us and custom mugs Ryan gave to his dad and brothers.

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Everyone thinks Charlie looks like his Papa Cox. I can’t disagree. Genes are crazy.

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Nana gave Ruby a lovely little tea set. Ryan was happy to oblige her request to join her for tea. One of my favorite, most heart melting parts of my life is watching Ryan as a dad. Our kids truly adore him and it’s not a wonder why.

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Chris and Ryan took the girls sledding. It was SO COLD that all of their cheeks were rosy and frozen when they got home, but they had a good time. Ruby loves taking it to the hills. She seems to be quite adventurous and is becoming more confident and fearless with every passing month.

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My wonderful Mother-In-Law is amazing at wrangling children. I was so thankful to have her help for a few days. Such a great Christmas.  It was wonderful to be in Michigan and we were so excited that Ryan had so many days off in a row. So thankful that we would get to see both sides of our family in one vacation. We love our family.IMG_7312

Cox Family Thanksgiving

Friday afternoon we drove up to Grand Rapids to celebrate Thanksgiving with the Cox Family. We arrived in time for a quick dinner then walked over to see Santa and his Reindeer in Gaslight Village. Ryan and Chris told Ruby to ask Santa for World Peace, but when she got up there she forgot what they said and asked him for “ummmm, and that other thing.” which Mrs. Claus thought was hilarious.

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Nana is the queen of the library. She always has a pile of books to read to the girls. They love it.IMG_6828

Kyle and Sarah came over on Saturday with Ellen and Abigail who were quite entertained by their cousins Ruby and Clara. Clara loves babies. She wanted to help Sarah feed them and hold them.IMG_6815 IMG_6824

This was the best pic we could get of all 5 cousins. They’re so funny. Ellen and Abigail are 10 months old now! Nana made those cute reindeer shirts for all of her grandkids. It’s the same pattern she used on Christmas shirts for Ryan, Kyle and Chris when they were little.IMG_6864

Uncle Chris has begun teaching Charlie everything he needs to know about this world.IMG_6866

It’s so fun to see my kids having fun with their Aunts and Uncles like I remember having with my Aunts and Uncles growing up.IMG_6833 IMG_6857

Charlie is so jolly. He’s pretty much the best little jolly Christmas elf in the history of the world.

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Hope you and yours had a Happy Thanksgiving too!