Wednesday, September 30, 2009

35 months old

Only one more month to go before Emily turns the big 3! She continues to take steps in becoming a “big girl”. At the beginning of this month we eliminated both the booster seat and a bib for eating. It has gone surprisingly well. She is definitely squirmier, and it’s harder to keep her in her chair the whole time without the booster seat. She has only had a few spills on clothes, which she hates. In general, Emily has always been a relatively neat eater. We haven’t had spaghetti yet, though. :o)

Another new item is graduating from a convertible to a booster car seat. This is much easier to buckle/unbuckle for us and she will hopefully be able to do it herself in the near future.

The new school year has marked the beginning of Sunday School for Emily. After a rough start the first day she’s doing great and loving it. It makes my heart smile when I hear her joyfully singing songs throughout the week that she learned in Sunday School. Another activity we started was Toddler Story Time at the Waverly Library. That has not gone quite as smoothly. Let’s just say I’m glad we actually made it through the whole 20 minutes last time. Emily loves doing the songs and finger plays throughout the week. I think it’s partially a power struggle and getting used to the idea of structured group activity where someone else is in charge. It’s the flipside curse of the blessing of having such an amazingly independent and self-entertaining toddler.

In order to encourage interactive play Emily & I have named the squirty fish in her bathtub Lemmy, Otto & Dottie to go along with George, Mama Duck and Baby Duck. They go on adventures to places like the library, park and store.

Emily has developed an obsession with purses/bags this month and can usually be found carrying at least one around with a random assortment of objects inside. They range in size from a small Easter hand purse to a reusable Wal-mart shopping bag. I have to convince her to leave them in the van when we go places and only take one or two objects inside the store. She also has attached herself to a small purple pillar candle and glass candle tray that she found in the home décor box in the basement. It goes to bed with her at night.

A fun toy Emily recently acquired was a tub of plain Legos I got from a garage sale. I got out the Lego table top I found at a previous garage sale and Emily has spent hours carefully arranging all the Legos like a real-life Tetris game. This toy will either end up in her room or the basement as soon as Lincoln is mobile.

Emily has entered the “wh” question stage. I think we hear “What’s that?” or “What’s Mommy/Daddy/Lincoln doing?” at least a hundred times a day. She hasn’t even gotten to the “Why?” question yet and my head already hurts! One day I asked her, “What are you doing?” and her answer was, “Being naughty with George.” Hmmm… Emily is also entering a whining stage. I don’t think she fully comprehends what constitutes whining, but she’s very good at it!

Emily & Cheney have not been getting along lately. He is always close by at meal & snack time since she no longer has a large bib pocket to catch things. Apparently anything within three feet is too close for Emily. She often yells at him or sometimes tries to take a swing at him. If he goes for a crumb or licks her chair she goes nuts and wants you to wipe it off. She also gets upset when he follows her around when she has a bowl of snacks. If she didn’t drop so many or leave her half-finished bowl lying around he wouldn’t be so interested. I don’t think the message is getting through, though. :op

After Emily’s younger cousin got potty-trained this month I was feeling jealous and inspired at the same time. I thought I would encourage Emily to possibly jump-start herself by purchasing a Dora potty seat and Dora underwear since she wears “Dora” Pampers Easy-Ups. When we got home from the store she literally threw the underwear package back at me and the only thing she did with the potty seat was parade around the house wearing it on her head like a crown. So much for that idea! She actually did sit on the potty seat twice for me today, but only because I bribed her with candy corn (which she calls “fingers”). I told her she could have a candy pumpkin if she actually went on the potty. No such luck. However, she has been having some digestive issues, and we’re experimenting with Miralax. Until we get that straightened out I don’t think there’s even a point in trying anything, let alone the fact that I am in no place physically or mentally to take her on at this juncture.

The September video player is below and the pictures have been uploaded to Winkflash. Happy Fall!

Monday, September 28, 2009

What we did last week & weekend...

I'm not sure where the last week went. All I know is a lot of people came through our house for central air-conditioning estimates. The preliminary numbers aren't pretty. :o( But on to the fun stuff...

I dug out the Exersaucer and put Lincoln in it for the first time. He liked it, but only for a short while. His happiness timespan seems to increase each time I put him in it, though. I just have to pack him in so he doesn't flop around so much since he's still a little wobbly. I caught Emily violently rocking him back & forth this morning while I was in the kitchen getting lunch ready. I'm pretty sure she clearly got the message that was not acceptable!

Austin & I spent a good chunk of the week combing the house for things to sell at a friend's garage sale. I also baked up a storm on Thursday so I could sell bread & cookies. Our net total was almost $100, and we got rid of some larger items. The freezer is now overflowing with cookies. :o)

Friday was the first "Mom's Morning Out" at Orchard Hill Church for this school year. Lincoln was born 4 days after the last MMO in the spring. It has been a very long time! I was so excited to get a 45-minute solo shopping trip to Kohl's. I'd been waiting for that for over a month, and I made the most of it! ;o)

This weekend marked Waverly's Sesquicentennial (150th birthday). I missed the spelling out of "Waverly" on the football field by 500 people on Friday afternoon because both of the kids took 2-hour naps at the same time. Since neither one hardly ever takes a nap like that period, I certainly wasn't going to wake them up when they were doing it simultaneously! Instead I made cinnamon rolls and had a 45-minute uninterrupted phone conversation catching up with a dear friend. :o)

On Saturday afternoon I went on the cemetery walk at Harlington Cemetary led by a history professor from Wartburg. It was very interesting. The cemetery opened in the 1850's and has a lot of old stones and stories to go with them. I didn't realize how much the Bremer County area was affected by the Civil War. Apparently there were two companies from the county in the Iowa Regiment and they had one of the highest casualty rates in the whole Union Army. Sadly enough, all but 2 were due to disease rather than actual battlefield wounds because of their stations at the siege of Vicksburg and the swamplands of Louisiana.

Since Lincoln accompanied me through the cemetery in the stroller on Saturday, I took Emily with me on Sunday to the High Tea at the Bremer County Historical Society Museum. It was a fun little outing and a special treat for Emily. I kind of wished I would have left her Sunday dress on. There were lots of guides in old-fashioned dress clothes handing out hors d'ouvres and lemonade. The museum itself is a very impressive collection of artifacts donated by residents of Bremer County. It covers three floors of what was originally a stagecoach stop and hotel right on the corner of Bremer Ave (Hwy. 3) and 4th St. (Bus. 218). One could easily spend at least half a day studying the displays and reading all the plaques. Emily lasted almost 45 minutes before she started touching things she shouldn't. That was pretty impressive! Below are a few pictures. You can click on them for a closer look.

There is a whole wing built specifically to house the private collection of a Waverly resident who was a taxidermist for the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago in the early 1900's. He had been to Siberia, the Arctic and Africa. Emily liked all the stuffed heads on the walls and correctly named almost all of the animals. Another room is a re-creation of a log cabin using parts of the last remaining log cabin in Bremer County. Emily's favorite part was probably the 1800's kitchen where we knew the lady talking about it and she let us pick out some hats to wear at the tea table.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

4 months old

Lincoln turned 4 months old today and this picture pretty much describes his disposition. Very rarely do I use the word "cranky" to describe him. He is becoming quite social and loves watching Emily & Cheney. Some of his favorite activities are doing "Patty Cake" and riding horsey on your knee. He also loves shrieking, squawking and experimenting with noises his voice can make.

Lincoln is really, really close to being able to roll over. He did it accidentally on the changing table at 5:00am the other morning, but he had a lot of help and things to brace his feet on there. He just needs to swing his hip over a little bit more. ;o) He can definitely scoot and maneuver around, though. I never find him in the same position I laid him down in his crib.

Lincoln has become a side-sleeper. He very much prefers that position--just like his mom. ;o) He started sleeping in pretty regular 4-hour blocks at night. The last few nights I have been pushing him to wait at least 6 hours to eat. I still have been getting up 3-6 times/night, but he only actually eats once. Now that he's 4 months old we might experiment with some crying-it-out at night. It worked well for Emily and I wished I had tried it sooner with her (I did it at 5 months). Unfortunately, a regular nap schedule has been slow to develop. Just this week he has started taking a longer morning nap (1-1.5 hours). He's still doing 30 min. snoozes the rest of the day. Luckily, he sleeps like a log in the car seat, so he slept most of the way traveling back & forth to Hull regardless of the time of day.

This month we had to break out the bibs. Lincoln has turned into a drooly-monster just like Emily was. He soaks at least one bib a day. He's not nearly as spitty as Emily was, though, so there's less laundry/stain-removal that has to take place. However, I'm still having problems with leaky diapers and soaking through pajamas--usually onto mine, too--while nursing at night. I've tried four different brands/styles, including Huggies Overnights one size up. I'm hoping that cutting out middle-of-the-night feedings will decrease the amount of liquid that goes through his system and the problem will take care of itself.

Overall, though, things are going great. We really couldn't ask for a better baby!

Friday, September 18, 2009

If you're happy and you know it...

Can you help but smile and chuckle out loud watching this video? Even though our venture to the Waverly Library's Toddler Story Time didn't exactly go well last week, we have been singing/saying all the songs & finger plays from the take-home sheet. Emily asks to sing "library songs" almost every day. Hopefully that will make her more likely to cooperate on future trips. Her favorite song today was "If you're happy and you know it..." I swear I sang it at least 10 times today with all kinds of crazy made-up verses. Austin said Emily sang her own version in her bed before falling asleep. Can you tell what her favorite verse is?!? ;o)

P.S. How do you like her pajama fashion statement? :o)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Memories of Grandma Vander Kooi

My Grandma Vander Kooi passed away on Sunday (ironically enough--Grandparent's Day). Hearing the news was as much a relief as anything. She is now in a much better place--dancing and rejoicing in a new body with Jesus! :o) I'm so glad I made the trip back last week to say goodbye. The visitation and memorial service this week were very nice. Now I am completely at peace.

As a tribute to my grandma, here are some of my fondest memories of her from my childhood...
  • My two sisters and I went to my Grandpa & Grandma Vander Kooi's house often growing up because we lived in the same town. My grandma would always have three equal portions of assorted candy waiting in the "candy drawer" when we got there. It might be a 3-pack of Sweettarts, a single Starburst and a Tootsie Roll. The containers were the little Crystal Light drink mix cups. Grandma ALWAYS had a pitcher of lemonade in the fridge. You also knew which cupboard/drawer contained the Pringles (sour cream & onion flavor just for me), the cheese curls and the oyster crackers. Grandma also had a tiny play tea set complete with teeny, tiny silverware. My sisters & I had "tea" using lemonade and cheese curls.

  • Pistachio Pudding Cake was the only kind of cake I ever remember Grandma making and always for birthdays. I loved it. Ironically enough, I have her hand-written recipe and had made one just before she went to the hospital after having a craving for rich, chocolate cake one morning.
  • Grandma always asked if you wanted a hunk of watermelon, which meant cut up cubes, not a slice. The best part about eating Grandma's watermelon was that she picked out all the seeds when she cut it up, unlike Mom. Those were the days before seedless watermelon. :o)

  • My grandpa & grandma had raspberries & cantaloupe in their garden. We would go out and eat the raspberries straight off the bushes until we found one with a black bug. Then we went inside to wash them first.

  • My sisters and I went to my grandpa & grandma's house every Sunday afternoon from 4:00pm-6:00pm and sometimes on Saturday mornings. We were always excited to watch cable TV since we didn't have it home. Some of our favorite shows were Hey, Dude and Double Dare on Nickelodeon and reruns of Saved by the Bell and Wings on USA. When we were young my grandma babysat my sisters & I on Thursday nights while my parents ran the catechism program at church. We got to watch the new episode of The Cosby Show but she wouldn't let us stay up to watch Seinfeld. That was about the only time she ever said "no" to us grandkids. It was probably a good decision. ;o)

  • My grandma always called the couch the "davenport" and the kitchen counter the "workbench".

  • My grandma was quite a seamstress and sewed most of her kids' clothes. She let us mess around on her old sewing machine and hand stitch things on old scraps of fabric.

  • Grandma had a huge button collection from her sewing days and it was fun to sort through them. She also had a large, old jewelry collection with lots of pins, necklaces and clip-on earrings, which were also fun to sort through and play with--especially before we got pierced ears.

  • I remember playing with lots of old, colorful umbrellas in rain & sun. We also "painted" the driveway using water and sponge brushes.

  • My grandma was an avid reader and crossword extraordinaire. She actually started keeping a list of the ID numbers of the books she had read from the library because she couldn't always remember which ones she had finished--and she always finished a book whether she liked it or not. The librarians also kept track for her (before the days of computerized records) and saved new books for her to read first. My grandma also bragged (and it was probably true) that along with her warmed up cup of coffee she had the entire Sioux City Journal read and the crossword puzzle finished by 7:00am every morning. I remember doing lots of crossword puzzles at her house and always asking for her help. I had to do mine in pencil because I usually had to erase something. She only ever did hers in ink.

  • My grandma was smart as a whip and graduated at the top of her class. She competed in spelling bees and typing contests. She went on to Mankato Commercial College where she took secretarial and accounting courses.

  • My grandma was the bookkeeper for my grandpa's trucking business and they had an old typewriter in the basement. We sure thought it was cool to play on that!
  • Maybe I got my bookkeeping genes from my grandma. She also was the treasurer for the Reformed Church Women group at church for 34 years. Everything was by hand, of course, and she was always perfectly balanced to the penny. I can't stand to be off, either. :o)

  • Since we were at the end of the bus route for half the year my grandpa & grandma would often pick us up from school and bring us home so we didn't have to spend 45 min. on the bus or walk the 1/2 mile home. :o)

  • Grandma still had the old baby buggy from when her kids were little. She rocked every one of the grandkids in it. She tied a fabric belt to the handle and pushed it away and pulled it back over and over and over again.

  • My grandma was a HUGE college basketball fan--especially of the Northwestern (Orange City, IA) Red Raiders and the Iowa Hawkeyes. She knew every player every year on those teams. Besides them she usually cheered for the underdog. Except she couldn't stand Duke, Bobby Knight or Dick Vitale. She would literally put the games on mute just so she wouldn't have to listen to Dick Vitale talk.

  • My grandma was also a HUGE fan of her grandkids. She practically had an assigned seat at all our activities--top row, dead center of the bleachers at both the Boyden-Hull Elementary and High School gyms and the aisle seat 2/3 of the way back on the left side of the High School auditorium. She & my grandpa were always there early to get "their seats". The same was true for church. Grandma was in place by at least 9:10am for the 9:30am service so she could watch everybody else walk in. :o) It also meant a whole lot when she & my grandpa made the 4 hour trip to Cedar Falls to attend one of my mid-week Women's Chorus concerts at UNI. They were the only family members able to make it.

  • My grandma & grandpa went on quite a few long-distance bus tours after retiring. Being a good Dutch woman, my grandma collected wrapped bars of soap from all the hotels they stayed in along the way. There was a large jar full of them on the bathroom counter. It was a big deal when my sisters & I could pick one out to bring home. I wonder if she ever actually bought bars of soap. :o)

  • My grandma often ordered a chicken dinner when she & my grandpa went out to eat every Saturday night. However, she always requested wings. In fact, that's the only piece of chicken she would eat. She told me it was because once when my uncle was a kid he shot a rabbit and put it in the freezer after he skinned it. She ate it and was so grossed out when she found out it was a rabbit and not chicken that she insisted on only eating wings from that point forward because she knew that only chickens had wings. :o)

  • After I moved 4 hours away for college my grandma continued to keep in touch through weekly hand-written letters. These continued even when I studied abroad in England for a semester. They ceased only when she lost most of her sight due to macular degeneration. The last letter I received was on the day of her funeral. She had hand-written a farewell note to the entire family many years earlier. We each received a copy on Tuesday. What a precious gift to remember her by.

Here are some recent pictures I have of her...

Meeting Emily for the first time (Dec. 2006)

Four generations

Winning the "Bunco" red bells at the family Christmas

Meeting Lincoln for the first time (July 4, 2009)...

Dedicated to Velma Beth (Koele) Vander Kooi

May 29, 1920 ~ September 13, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

The lighter side of our trip

The kids & I stayed in Hull until Friday morning. I briefly went back to the hospital twice on Thursday, but the rest of the time was spent relaxing and visiting people. Emily, of course, was just excited to go to Grandpa & Grandma Boote's farm! She usually latches on to one or two particular things each visit. This time it was a pair of big sunglasses and some Fisher Price binoculars. They never left her neck or head except at bed & bath time. She also continued her fascination with the old school Lite Brite my sisters & I had growing up. There aren't very many pegs left. Most of them fell victim to the vacuum at one point or another. :o( Other fun activities included picking up apples for Apple Dapple Cake and chasing butterflies. There were lots of monarchs on the flowers in the garden.
On the way home I decided to take a break and make a stop at Hawk Valley Gardens just east of Spencer to pick out our pumpkins & gourds for fall displays. Emily was much more excited than last year and was particularly drawn to the bumpy ones. Lincoln just enjoyed being outside and out of his car seat for 30 min. They technically weren't opening until tomorrow (Sept. 12), but the guy said if I came all the way from Bremer County I could sure look around. Maybe he felt sorry for me when he saw me with two little kids strapped into carseats in the van. :o) However, three other customers stopped by while we were there. too. Notice Emily is still wearing the sunglasses & binoculars. They came home with us and will have to be returned when we go back for the funeral.

Saying goodbye to Grandma VK

I changed my mind at 10:00am on Wednesday morning and decided to say goodbye to my (Megan's) Grandma Vander Kooi in person. She is 89 years old and has been in the nursing home for 2 1/2 years with many health problems. Last weekend she was admitted to the hospital and suffered mini strokes that triggered bleeding in the brain. Since she would never survive any kind of brain surgery, and definitely didn't want that anyway, the family decided just to let her go peacefully on her own. I was able to briefly say, "I love you" to her over the phone on Saturday night when she was still verbally responsive, even though someone had to tell me what she was saying. I was not planning to make the trip to Hull until the funeral was scheduled. However, my grandma rallied somewhat on Wednesday and I changed my mind. Austin was in Kansas City for work. I dropped off the dog, packed up the kids and drove the 4 hours straight to the hospital in Sioux Center. I'm so glad I did. I was able to hold my grandma's hand and feel her squeeze in acknowledgement that she heard me and knew who I was. The kids held her hand, too. I felt completely at peace since I was truly able to say a final goodbye. Plus I know it meant a lot to my grandpa for me to be there.

Besides my own goodbyes, there are two pictures that made the whole trip worth it and will be etched in my memory forever. One is of my mom gently stroking and tracing the lines of her mom's worn and wrinkled hand. I can't even explain in words the emotions that beautiful picture stirs deep inside of me. The other picture was of my grandpa holding the hand of his bride of 65 years and quietly praying with/over her in the dimly lit hospital room just before we took him home for the night. The only words I heard drift to the doorway were, "...someday we'll see each other again."

Monday, September 7, 2009

Day in Des Moines

We spent Saturday in Des Moines with the entire Lorenzen family. It was a fun, relaxing day of visiting, eating and cheering on the Panthers (even though they fell short). We got to meet the newest cousin, James Donald Sharr. He & Lincoln will have fun playing together in the future!

This is the best attempt at a grandkids picture.

Even Austin's Grandpa & Grandma Lorenzen were there, so we got a picture of four generations of Lorenzen men.

And the whole family.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Butterfly garden

Emily & I both got official library cards at the Waverly Public Library this morning. And thanks to a tip from a friend, we also explored the huge butterfly garden outside the library. Many of the flowers are nearing the end, but we saw at least 5 monarchs. Emily liked looking at the goldfish in the lily pad pond. I'm excited to go back again and again next spring/summer to see all the blooming flowers as they cycle through. It's also very cool because the elementary school our kids will be attending is right behind the library. We saw a class walking to the butterfly garden as we were leaving.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Emily's coloring creations

After not giving a hoot about coloring or drawing for a long time, Emily has suddenly become fascinated with coloring in the last little while. She has a set of fat Crayola crayons and we have been finding them everywhere. Here is a display of her handiwork over the last couple days. As you can see, she's going for the "most area covered" prize. Even though she likes to color everything, she can sort of stay in the lines if she wants to (see green VeggieTales characters). The two large pictures in the giant coloring book were originally colored by me last spring. Apparently she thought they needed a blue tint. All I can say is thank goodness for washable crayons. We haven't had any major disasters yet, but I'm sure there's one in the making!

Goodbye, old friend

Today I said goodbye to a dear, old friend. I bought this pair of Nike mesh shorts when I was in Junior High. It was one of the first purchases I ever made after my parents had us start buying our own clothes with the allowance money they gave us. It felt like a lot of money to spend on brand name shorts at the time. However, this pair of shorts has literally been worn and washed hundreds of times. They got worn to P.E., volleyball practices, track practices, basketball games, the pool, aerobics classes and general summer wear for 15 years. (That sounds almost awful!) Amazingly enough, the shorts still look okay, but the elastic waistband creaks when stretched, and they just don't stay up anymore. They lasted through two pregnancies, but I just had to call it quits today. They will be sorely missed.

On a happier note, the matching red pair is still going strong even though it is now multi-colored since it has been "painting clothes" for the last 6 years. They weren't worn quite as often (didn't match as many shirts).

On a confused note, what is the proper pronoun to use in reference to a pair of shorts? I've flipped back and forth between "it" and "they" while composing this post. Help me out English nuts!