Thursday, June 30, 2011

June 2011 videos

4 years + 8 months

It's amazing how much Emily changes over the course of a month as I look back on the list of notes I've jotted down throughout the month.  With such an active and lively imagination, there are always new things popping up in Emily's fantasy world.  The imaginary friend-of-the-month was named Lily.  Lily lives in a pink and blue house in Vivanda, which is apparently a faraway town even though she's around a lot.  Lily's mom also had a new baby they named Macy (which happens to be the name of Emily's newest and only girl cousin).

In addition to her imaginary friends, Emily also started playing more with a doll from my childhood named Felicia.  It's a girl doll and not a baby doll, so she's mostly a companion.  Emily sometimes has "meetings" with Felicia and her other friends at night after we put her to bed.  They can get quite rowdy and run quite late.  All of this takes place with either kids' songs or Curious George read-aloud CD's playing continuously in the background.  She has been listening to Curious George Learns the Alphabet for three weeks now.

One major developmental thing this month has been sincere apologies after incidents.  If Emily gets angry and yells or misbehaves in some way, if you remove her from the situation and/or let her go collect herself, she will come back in a little bit with a sincere apology naming whatever she did wrong.  She also apologizes to Lincoln or others for things.  I'm not exactly sure how this came about, because I've never been one to force kids to apologize for things when you know they either don't understand or mean what they're saying, but I sure appreciate it about her!

Emily's appetite has sharply increased this month.  I'm not sure if it's all the summer activity or if she's getting ready for a growth spurt.  One thing we have been working on is trying to consume more liquids--mostly water.  Emily will often go a whole day not drinking more than 4 oz. of milk (with a lot of negotiation/prodding) and maybe 8 oz. of juice.  In an effort to increase the fluids without resorting to lemonade or other sweet drinks, I bought a fun clear water glass with a straw and an M&M's character on it.  When I remember to fill it up and it stays visible during the day, Emily has been pretty good about drinking more water.  Unfortunately, she's also quickly discovering that drinking more water means you have to go potty much more often than you're used to.  This has led to a few accidents this month, but nothing terrible.

Emily has definitely inherited a distaste for bugs from her mother.  I hate the "buggy" feeling in the summer--especially around sunset when the wind dies down and the mosquitoes come out.  It's one of the big reasons I'm not a camper.  Not only is Emily concerned about bugs biting her, she also is almost afraid of flies.  She once hid completely underneath all of her bedding for 20 minutes and emerged all hot and sweaty because she spotted a fly buzzing around her room.  She immediately notifies me if she sees any kind of flying insect inside the house.  She enjoys eating meals on the picnic table on the deck, but doesn't like it if flies come around.  It's a good thing we don't live on a farm with animals.  Flies were just a part of summer growing up.  We hardly ever have them in the house now.

A couple quick quips--Emily calls tank tops, "tanker tops" and don't try to convince her otherwise.  She also often misuses "sounds like" when she should be saying "looks like."  For instance, "It sounds like it's going to rain" (just because it's cloudy).  Or, "It sounds like the garden is growing."  Or, "It sounds like a good day to go swimming."

I'll leave you with a poem that Emily composed at the beginning of the month while we were in Hull visiting my parents.  Don't ask me where it came from or what it means.  Here is the interpretation in case it's hard to read/decipher:

Emily's Poem
Meat say Moo
Buns say Meow
Milk say Neigh
Ice cream say Oink

Swimming lessons

Emily finished her first round of swimming lessons in the Schuldt Natatorium at The W in Waverly.  After the crazy weather the first week, I'm sure glad they are held indoors!  Each lesson was for 30 min. on Monday-Thursday for the last two weeks.  There were six kids in her Preschool I class.  Lincoln & I observed the lessons from the windows upstairs.  Here's how it all went down:

Day 1: Emily seemed to have fun but had issues about getting her hair wet.  She told her teacher, Abby, that her hair gets nasty.  I think she said a lot of other things, too, because it seemed like her mouth never stopped moving.

Day 2:  Emily was a little more okay with getting her hair wet with a ponytail in.  Afterward she informed me, "I'm sorry but I don't have time to go to swimming lessons tomorrow.  I have a billion things to do."  I think she was mostly referring to getting ready for a big birthday party she was hosting for her doll, Felicia, and the rest of her imaginary friends.

Day 3:  Emily kicked and thrashed around when the teacher tried to hold her floating on her tummy (head up).  She refused to follow most instructions after that and had to be taken out by another lifeguard to supposedly get a drink of water.  Emily told her teacher that she would blow bubbles in the water tomorrow.

Day 4:  Emily was nearly 100% compliant.  She blew bubbles in the water just like she said she would.  She also moved her head side to side to practice putting her ears in the water and laid mostly still while being held in a back float position.  She still didn't put her face in the water for a front float, but didn't resist being held in position.  She said she "needed another lesson to put her face in the water.  Maybe in July."

Day 5:  The teacher tried to teach the kids the general arm movements for the crawl stroke (big arm circles).  Emily wouldn't do it and later told me she could only give high fives.

Day 6:  Emily got hit in the face with a diving ring at the beginning of the lesson and that kind of ruined things for the rest of the time.  Another instructor, Katie, eventually came and tried to work with her one-on-one, but she didn't want to do much.

Day 7:  The day started out promising but quickly deteriorated for unknown reasons.  Emily ended up spending one-on-one time with Katie for most of the lesson with only minimal cooperation.  At the end of the lesson the other kids strapped on life vests to practice jumping into the deep water.  Some were definitely more reluctant than others.  Emily, however, sat against the wall 10 feet away from the edge of the pool with her pouty, scowly face that said, "I am NOT going to do it."  Sigh...

Day 7.5: In the afternoon I took the kids to the public pool, which Emily had been excited about.  She, however, spent at least half of the time wrapped in a towel whining about wanting to go home.  Even though the other little girl from her swimming class was also at the pool, Emily didn't want to play.  It's like she has digressed way beyond where she ever was even last year.  She did go in the big pool all decked out in flotation devices for about 5 minutes before it was rest period and everyone had to get out.  I know I should try and take her to the pool more often to help her get more comfortable in the water, but it's pretty much impossible to work with her on anything while trying to keep track of Lincoln, too.

Day 8:  Today I resorted to bribery.  I wish I would have done it earlier.  I picked up some new pool toys at Wal-mart and told Emily she could have a surprise if she listened to her teachers and cooperated with everything they asked her to do.  She was perfect.  However, it was too late because all the skills evaluations were already done and today was just a fun day.  They played with the diving rings, jumped in the water with life vests and got to go down the big slide.  Emily did get a new toy, but not the one she wanted most.  That will have to be saved for another day.

Outcome:  Not surprising, Emily did NOT pass her swimming class.  I really think it was more out of stubbornness than fear that she did not perform the required skills.  The teacher recommended that we try private lessons since Emily seemed to respond better to one-on-one attention.  We'll probably have to end up doing that--at least this time.  Afterward I think Emily began to grasp the concept of not passing.  Before that she really didn't understand, so she didn't care.

I really hope this is not a problem that continues in the future.  I vividly remember swimming lessons growing up and honestly pretty much hated them.  Even though I made it up to life guard training and can do all the basic skills, I still don't enjoy putting my face in the water and definitely don't open my eyes.  Austin was a life guard in high school as well as Uncle Tyler.  My mom was also a life guard.  So at least we have some tradition going for us!  This has been a big learning experience for both Emily & I, and now we know what to work on going forward.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sturgis Falls Half Marathon

Austin has been running as part of the Iowans for Africa marathon training team program at our church for the last three months.  The program was set up to run the half marathon at the Sturgis Falls celebration in Cedar Falls today.  Another one of the items on our bucket list was to cheer him on.  I was really nervous about it because the race started at 7:00am and neither kid had woken up before 8:30am for the past week (we're definitely on a summer schedule).  They didn't fall asleep early the night before, either.

Despite all my worries, however, everything went absolutely perfect.  The weather was gorgeous.  I planned on setting up at Gateway Park, which was a loop around mile 11, by 8:15am.  Emily woke up naturally with a small bloody nose around 7:15am right as I was going to wake her up anyway.  Lincoln was halfway awake, too.  They happily got ready, and we arrived plenty early.  We saw Austin twice as he made the loop by the park.  Then we high-tailed it back to the van and were able to catch him again a couple blocks before the finish line.  Click on the collage for a closer view of the pictures.

Austin did great and finished in 1:53.  His goal had been to be under 2 hours.  Emily was pretty excited about the whole thing and declared several times, "I think Daddy won because he was the fastest!"  She also loved the finishers medal he received.  I took the kids to church while Austin went home to shower and rest.  Emily wore the medal to Sunday school and told everyone there how her daddy won the race. :o)  Also a note about her sign: I obviously wrote "Go Daddy!"  She then decorated it by writing "Go Daddy now!"  She also drew a picture of a flower and a disco ball because she said everything needed a disco ball.  Okay then.  Not sure where that come from!  There are also some race-inspired videos in the June player.

We're all so proud of Austin and this significant accomplishment!


Austin has been hard at work for the last week finishing up the patchwork for the air-conditioning.  Here's the picture proof:
Old wall unit 

All kinds of gross--rotted out wood and multiple active ant colonies.

 Patching it up inside and out

Good as new!

Duct work in the hall closet

Covered up with drywall and trimmed out again

Now the closet is ready for me to move all of Lincoln's clothes back in, which is going to require a major sorting job.  Ugh.  I'm sick of him living out of laundry baskets for the last five weeks, but I don't really enjoy the whole clothes changeover thing either.

A huge thanks to a handy husband that made everything look beautiful, though!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Birthday present

Austin & I don't do birthday presents for each other, but one of the things Emily wrote on the summer bucket list was to "mack a present".  She worked really hard on it last week and hid it in her art cart until today.  Here's what she gave me:

It's a VeggieTales comic strip.  The first panel is Bob & Larry saying, "Hi Kids! I'm Bob the Tomdo." and "& I'm Larry the Cucumber" only Emily said she didn't know how to spell cucumber, so she just put "Qubr."  The second panel is Bob being startled when Larry says, "Back there!"  I LOVE the facial expressions.  The third panel is Larry & Bob with Qwerty, the computer (although Emily calls it "Courtney").  The last panel is them saying good-bye at the end.

I'm thinking this was inspired by the many hours of VeggieTales viewing that has taken place in the van over the last month.  It also probably had to do with the VeggieTales MOPS stickers I recently got in the mail.  This is the back of the paper.  Apparently, I'm not allowed to recycle this like most of Emily's papers. ;o)  She told me it was a bookmark. 

A pretty perfect birthday

Friday was my 31st birthday.  I can definitely see how birthdays tend to get less exciting the older you get.  ;o)  However, it was a pretty perfect day.  The kids & I hosted a playdate with a bunch of our friends.  There were a total of five moms and nine kids playing in the morning and eating lunch on the deck.  We got out the bouncy house and almost all the toys.  It was so much fun to be able to share our nice yard!  The weather was absolutely perfect for a picnic.  I didn't get great pictures because I was too busy enjoying myself. :o)

*lunch pictures courtesy of my friend, Julie

After everyone left and Lincoln was napping I got to take a nap, too.  Yay!  Later on the kids & I walked to the castle park.  On the way we made a little stop where I was able to finally meet and visit with the 95-year-old gentleman who lives two houses down on our block.  His name is Woody, and he has lived in that house since 1958.  He's a character and I hope to stop and visit with him more when he's sitting outside again sometime.

Austin & I had reservations at the Water Street Grill in Waverly for dinner.  I have heard nothing but good things about it and was really excited to try it.  Austin & I were both impressed to have something so nice yet so reasonable in Waverly.  We highly recommend it!  Since we both ate too much, and it was such a beautiful evening, we took a looping walk around the river and downtown while the sun set in beautiful purples and oranges.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

Austin spent Father's Day weekend doing one of the things he does best--fixing up the house.  He framed in and dry-walled around the duct work in the hallway closet on Saturday.  Today he took out the old wall air unit, dry-walled the inside and filled in the cedar shake siding on the outside.  It looks great.  It was a good thing to get that wall unit out, too.  There was a lot of rotted-out wood and multiple ant colonies present.  I'll post the before & after pictures when everything is completely done.

Since Austin was hard at work all day, I didn't get a picture of him with the kids.  They love their Daddy, though and look up to him as a hero. :o)

2 years + 1 month

Lincoln is really starting to let his inner two-year-old shine through.  There has been a definite increase in tantrums and other devious activities, although he's nowhere near the caliber of what Emily was at this age.  He has developed quite a screech that sometimes also includes a gurgling noise.  It's nice.  When he doesn't want something, instead of saying "no" he shoves the object away or pumps his fist out in a comical "no" gesture.

Lincoln's vocabulary has continued to increase, and he regularly points out and labels objects.  This is especially true of any kind of vehicle.  He lets us know when every "beeeg shruck" (big truck) goes by as well as any "ah-pane" that flies overhead.  When he wants something he says "peas, peas" and open and closes his hand.  His "thank you" sounds more like "cookie," so we hear a lot about peas and cookies. :o)  My favorite is when he says "Nigh, Nigh, Da-ddy."

At his 2-year check-up Lincoln had not been feeling well or eating much of anything for three days.  It turned out he had a nasty ear infection (his first).  After 24 hours on antibiotics he was pretty much back to normal.  His official weight at the check-up was 23.8 lbs, which was exactly what he was back in January.  After giving him Pediasure shakes for a week and continuing with Carnation Breakfast Essentials added to all his milk he has gained it back plus more.  Our bathroom scale said 26 lbs. this morning.  Hooray!  That kid could still stand to pack some more pounds--especially on his rear end.  He wears 18-month shorts, and I had to dig his size 12-month swim trunks back out.  Even with a swim diaper they barely stay on.

Some of Lincoln's favorite foods are vanilla pudding packs, yogurt, Goldfish crackers, string cheese, raisins, cubed ham and just about any kind of fruit.  He will probably eat his weight in watermelon this summer.  I finally found a dry cereal he likes to eat--Apple Jacks.  He now asks for "seer-ral".  He has always been a Cheerios snob from the very beginning, and I've tried just about everything.  This is the first one he's eaten on a regular basis, although he'll still occasionally eat Chocolate Frosted Mini-Wheats Little Bites with Emily.  I'm just happy he eats something besides fortified milk for breakfast!

A couple final notes:  Lincoln's last eye tooth finally popped through, so he now has a full mouth of teeth.  He's still drooling a bit, but not nearly as much as before.  I bought a new hair clipper with some longer guards and attempted to give Lincoln a haircut this week.  It didn't go so well, even sitting in front of a "Thomas" video with a sucker and juice.  I had to try to fix it the next day.  I think it's just a two-person job.  Lincoln has also become even more attached to his blanket and pacifier in his crib and has a little bit harder time putting them away after getting up.  It might be a defiance/testing thing.  I'm not sure when to try and eliminate the pacifier altogether.  It kind of happened accidentally with Emily at 18 months.  We'll see.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


Blowing bubbles was crossed off our summer bucket list today...


Bubble tips from a seasoned expert:
  • Pick a day with a very slight breeze or no wind at all and strategically pick a spot based on the direction of the wind.
  • Save the longest wands that come in the tallest bottles to use in shorter bottles so the wand doesn't get dropped and stuck in the bottle.
  • If you don't have long wands, make sure you have a needle-nose pliers or similar tool to constantly fish the wands out of the bottle.  
  • Buy a big, cheap bottle of bubble solution and pour into smaller bottles for the kids to use (with longer wands).  This minimizes the wasted solution when they inevitably knock over the bottle they are using.
  • If you are using longer wands, you can usually make just as many or more bubbles by gently waving the wand through the air vs. blowing through it.  It saves tired cheeks and dizzy heads.  It's also easier, more productive and less frustrating for the kids. 
  • Just throw away the little, cheap party-favor bubble bottles.  I detest those things.
  • Use up your bubble solution.  It doesn't work well after being frozen all winter.
  • Don't buy the big pack of lots of different kinds of wands.  Most of them are small and hard to handle.  They are cheap and break easily.  Many require you to touch your mouth to something and blow through it.  All kinds of disgusting.  Bubbles are the same shape no matter what wand you use.
  • Don't bother buying the motorized bubble makers unless you're planning a one-time use for a wedding or something.  They go through bubble solution like crazy.  They break easily, and the batteries corrode.  The bubble guns rarely work in the first place.
  • Skip the new "colored bubbles" too.  They probably are washable as advertised, but they will freak you out so much that you won't want the kids anywhere near them.  :o)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Recovery day

Today was our recovery day from VBS.  I got up at 8:30am.  Emily got up at 9:00am.  Lincoln didn't wake up until almost 10:00am.  We had absolutely nothing planned.  We got out the bouncy house and played in that for awhile.  It was humid but not really hot outside, so it was a perfect day to play with water.  Lincoln was entertained for quite some time by a hose hooked up to a rain barrel and turned on with a slow trickle.

Emily had fun creating a "garden" by the new air condenser.  She planted several bushes by pulling pieces off of existing bushes, sticking them in the dirt and watering them.  She hopes to be able to climb in the bushes someday. ;o)

After nap time we got out the new sprinkler purchased with Lincoln's birthday money.  It's pretty fun.  We only had it on halfway, which kept the streams of water pretty much steady.  If you turn the water on all the way the noodle things spray the water in all crazy directions.  The kids had fun, but weren't keen on getting really wet, as you can see.  I'm sure there will be plenty of that in the future. :o)

The best part of the day was if you got hot you could just run into an air-conditioned house!

It is finished! (almost)

After four long weeks of installation we finally have a brand new central air-conditioning system!  Our house did not have central air before.  Instead, we relied on an old, clunky wall unit in the living room, a window unit in Emily's room and a ceiling fan in almost every room to make things tolerable.  Our house also has a hot water heat system, so there was no existing duct work.  Everything had to built from scratch.  This meant giving up a space in the main room of the basement, lower ceilings in the basement, giving up the back of a closet in the main floor hallway and a little less space in the walk-in attic.  All in all, it's a small price to pay for comfort (at least in my opinion).  We also had to decide where all the holes would be cut in the walls/ceilings/floors for registers.  Thankfully, most of that work got done while the kids & I were gone and Austin had all the mess cleaned up by the time we got back. :o)

The project is not entirely finished because Austin has to drywall over the duct work in the closet and remove the old wall unit and patch that in.  We also have to eventually decide what to do with the basement ceiling.  It had been finished with white square tiles nailed onto strips on the floor joists.  The tiles had to be randomly removed to make way for the new duct work, which hangs down below the floor joists in some places.  A drop ceiling would make it really low and cave-like.  Leaving it all open makes it look more unfinished.  Any good ideas?

VBS Super Heroes

This week was Vacation Bible School at our church.  We skipped the family picnic on Sunday night because it was kind of rainy, but attended Monday-Thursday.  The programming was from 6:15-8:15pm with over 300 kids in attendance.  It was the first year Emily could attend, and I volunteered in her preschool room as a small group leader and guide.  Austin was traveling for work all week, so Lincoln hung out in the nursery.  In hindsight, it was definitely too much too late at night for all of us, especially being out of town, but we made it.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.

The theme was Super Heroes and we were encouraged to dress up.  Thanks to our good friend, Julie, we had two handmade super hero capes with lightning bolts on them, which was perfect because Emily & I were in the "Super Bolts" preschool room.  :o)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


It has been quite rainy this week so far.  Lincoln desperately wanted to go outside, so he & I got dressed up in coats and rain boots and went out in the rain.  He lasted about 8 minutes.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bouncy house

It was city-wide garage sales this weekend, and I visited a few put on by my fellow MOPS moms.  Besides the trike, I also got some small toys and a few clothing items.  The splurge item was a blow-up bouncy house!  We got it out this afternoon and the kids had a lot fun running/bouncing around in it.  It was even more fun after adding two beach balls.  The thing is actually really easy to set up and tear down and came in a big storage tub.  If you ever have a need to borrow it please let us know!