Wednesday, August 31, 2011

firsts and favorites

I've been dreading this day since June 14th...the first day of school. We had such a fun summer and I had such a pit in my stomach as the first day crept up. At least these two were really excited this nerves whatsoever! And the chaos at the school (and with Tanner) kept my tears back. They ran off before I could get good pictures at the school.

If they have to go to school, at least they get to go with lots of friends, and have incredible teachers.

Here's to another fabulous year of learning! And here are their current "favorites." I like taking pictures by the front door each year to see how they've grown in relation to the doorknob. This year I decided to add in their favorites so we can also see how those change.

We're excited to make cookies this afternoon and talk all about the first day. Let the countdown (to June) begin!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

new to me

I remember when my parents bought their very first new car. It was a minivan and had automatic sliding doors (!!). I believe I was 15 years old. I took my driver's license test in that car, back when I had cute naturally curly hair and actually had a decent license picture. We took tons of road trips in that van and my siblings and I argued over who got to sit in the middle row (as opposed to the back). That van drove me to college, among countless other places.

Five years ago we were living in Boston. With one (dumpy) car. I drove Spencer to the train every morning and picked him up every night. Sometimes I had to pluck sleeping babies out of their beds to go get him. We couldn't afford another car, and we made do and it wasn't a big deal.

But this van - my parents's van - came along and saved us. We were suddenly a two car family!! My parents drove it out to us, across the entire country. It didn't like Boston weather so much but once we left it did so much better. It has been SUCH a good car for us. Emma "named" it Annie.

Recently it has gotten...tired. It's now 15 years old. It shakes when you drive it. The heating works sometimes. The automatic doors gave out long ago. I get nervous when I need to drive it more than 10 miles. The upholstery has really cool 90s patterns  and designs on it. We've put a lot of money into it, but every time I've been so glad that we continued to hold on to it.

Last night Spencer took me out car shopping. I have been doing research for months, and have spent countless hours on Craigslist to see what's out there. Through all my research I realized I am just not a new car kind of person. My frugal lifestyle doesn't jive with a brand new car, at least not right now. I'm glad I came to that conclusion, as it saved us a lot of time with car salesmen. From of all my research I also knew what model I wanted, what colors I wanted, what options, etc. I guess in the end that is what made it so easy.

I have never been one of those snobby people who swears they'll never buy/drive a minivan (well, maybe I'm snobby in other ways but not about minivans). So that's what we got! A new (to me) shiny pretty car that will hopefully get us the same amount of years as my parents' van did! Happy Birthday to me!

The one taking the news hardest is Emma. This morning when I told her to go look in the driveway she said, "But I'm going to miss Annie!" She started crying and then she asked if we could keep it and just park it in the backyard. (Um, no, we only have room and are only trashy enough for one vehicle out there, thank you very much). I'm having a hard time letting go too. Well, I would be if my dad hadn't given me permission to go send it over a cliff.

RIP trusty old van.

Spencer, good luck topping this present.

Monday, August 22, 2011

teaching me

I often have others tell me how lucky I am to have good kids. I'm sure everyone hears that at some point. Lately I've felt off my game. Frazzled. I'm being re-introduced to what it's like to have a one year old. I'm so bi-polar when it comes to my feelings of the 12-18 month stage. It's exciting and new and SO FUN but at the same time it is difficult and often almost impossible.

Lately we have really been working to do family breakfast time. 15 minutes, all in the kitchen, all talking to each other and interacting. Dinner would be ideal but it has never been a possibility for us. Spencer usually gets home around bedtime or later. But Spencer has done a good job initiating family breakfast. He has also been really good about family prayer before he leaves. I have had to be the one who is "good" at doing Family Home Evening, but I haven't been as good at scripture time. It happens...but not every night. Yet, I see these things really working in our family.

I know the kids read their scriptures together at night. And to be honest, sometimes that's good enough for me.  Emma will read to Tyler, and then she'll read him a few chapters from whatever book she is into at the moment. As long as they're in bed and quiet I don't really care if they read until past their bedtime. Sometimes I will tell them to wrap it up and go to sleep and Emma will say, "But we still have to read scriptures!"

The other night I had finally gotten Tanner to sleep. I was burned out and tired and frustrated and was walking past her room on my way to the living room. I saw Emma and Tyler kneeling by the side of her bed, praying together. I stopped in my tracks. One half of me felt like my heart would burst and the other half wanted to sob. They were doing their own version of family prayer. I know they are good kids. They have a great dad who sets a strong example, even when he is gone so much. He makes the time home count. They also have wonderful primary leaders and teachers. I need to be better in compensating for his absence--if not for their benefit (they don't need it!), for my own. What a comfort to know that, in spite of my shortcomings, they are still learning and growing. I never thought my 6 and 7 year old would teach me such a powerful, quiet and unintended lesson.

Friday, August 12, 2011

west coast

Did you know there's a place that, even when the entire rest of the country is in a bigtime heat wave, is pretty darn cold and foggy?

We knew. Thank goodness; we were well prepared. The coast is often cold in the summer, colder than winter months even.

Grandpa and Nana live in Germany. They just finished 2 of their 3 years, but they got to come see us before flying back. And not only did they come see us, but they brought this!

We get to use it for the year, and we already have several reservations lined up to go on weekend trips. We decided on Half Moon Bay while they were here, so they could show us how to use it. Other than being incredibly crowded in the motorhome (7 people, including a crib), it was so so so much fun. Tyler assumed his normal position on his "perch" right behind Grandpa while it was in motion. Tanner wasn't a big fan but he will be soon.

We took bikes and rode up and down the bike trail there. Emma ate her beloved Clam Chowder to her heart's content (and it was really good). Our hair curled in the morning mist. We were kept up at night by the fog horn on the jetty. We ate yummy food (have you had Trader Joe's cinnamon crumble coffee cake?), visited the tidepools, discovered a little private beach littered with seaweed, and spent lots of great time with the grandparents. Tanner even almost warmed up to them!

Also, Tanner started walking this week. I dare you to NOT smile when looking at this picture? He is SO proud.

And this handsome boy of mine turned 6.

All fun things to have grandparents around for. And now we have this wonderful vehicle in our backyard for a while, but we can't wait for it to get out of the backyard! (Anyone have any great places to go camping?)