Saturday, June 30, 2012

June 2012 videos

5 years + 8 months

I have often felt like a human dictionary this month.  Emily is always asking what different words mean.  Sometimes the answer is easy, sometimes I'm at a loss.  I certainly have a deeper appreciation for dictionary writers!  The funniest incident occurred earlier this month involving a sing-along song from a Thomas the Train DVD.   After Emily had been singing the songs for 3 weeks, she was asking the definition of several words.  After a while she said, "How can 'harm' and 'calm' rhyme?"  Then I had try to explain how if you're British (as the singers of the song are), 'harm' and 'calm' actually do rhyme. :o)

Along with singing the Thomas songs--especially the one about the engine named Emily--Emily has developed a slightly annoying habit of constantly humming the songs and other tunes.  Humming is okay until you have heard the same song four times in a row or she's supposed to be eating her lunch, or your head just plain hurts as it echos around the bathroom during bath time.  She also has a high-pitched screech that is usually used to yell at Lincoln when they are playing trains or other activities.  She can go from humming to screeching back to humming in a split second.

One big project Emily has been working on this summer is beginning to learn Spanish.  She showed great interest in different countries and languages at the end of the school year.  She's also in the critical age window where her brain is more receptive and able to pick up on intonation and pronunciation.  We decided to purchase the Rosetta Stone program to use on our computer.  Emily spends about an hour a few times a week working on the lessons--usually while I'm laying down with Lincoln for a nap after lunch.  She is enjoying the program and often tries to use words or phrases in Spanish when she can.  I have also done some of the lessons, but I'm starting to fall behind from where she's at.  The two years of Spanish I took in high school have carried me thus far, but I'm afraid she's going to pass me up very soon!  Once school starts in the fall, we hope to use contacts through the school to try and find a Spanish-speaking family in town that might be interested in doing play dates to continue to practice in a natural environment.

Friday, June 29, 2012

George Wyth Beach

The #1 item on our summer bucket list was to go to a beach.  I have been wanting to take the kids to a beach ever since our trip to Mexico in February.  Since we're not willing to fly or drive the kids to an ocean beach right now, I had to look around for an alternative in the middle of Iowa.  Luckily, the beach at George Wyth Lake in George Wyth State Park just 15 min. away has opened up for the first time since the 2008 flood.  There is a brand new restroom/bath house facility and all new sand.  It's not a Caribbean white sand beach, but for kids who have never experienced a beach before, it was heaven!

It was spur of the moment, but I picked a cloudy Friday afternoon that wasn't too hot.  We packed a picnic lunch and enjoyed it on a blanket.  Then the kids spent the next 3 hours digging in the sand, splashing in the water and getting braver as they got wetter.  I honestly don't care for natural water swimming of any kind.  I only go in as far as I can still see what my feet will be stepping on, which was about ankle-deep in this case.  I wasn't even wearing a swimsuit. 

The kids didn't mind the lake water at all.  I had fun building a real sandcastle.  Lincoln had fun destroying it. :o)  It was fascinating watching the kids--especially Emily--experiment and discover what happens when you pile up sand certain ways and dump water certain ways and how river channels form and sand erodes, etc.  I was reliving childhood memories of having a garden hose in the big square sandbox.  The kids were conked out in bed 2 hours earlier than normal that night.  We are all excited to go back again sometime!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Swimming lessons

We completed another bucket list item this week--swimming lessons.  I believe swimming lessons are a necessary childhood rite of passage even though I dreaded them growing up.  This summer Emily was in the Preschool II class.  She did great and got very positive feedback from her teachers.  Based on past experience, it may have helped that I bribed her with a new "Emily" engine if she listened, participated and passed the class.  ;o)

I specifically picked a class time for Emily that coincided with a parent/toddler class that Lincoln & I could take together.  I wasn't expecting to learn a whole lot, but it was something to do other than dragging Lincoln to the observation area during Emily's lessons kicking & screaming, "I want to swim, too!!"  Plus, it was a cheap way to be able to go swimming eight times as well as get Lincoln more comfortable in the water.  Lincoln had fun and did okay, although he didn't ever want to blow bubbles or put his face in.  He has to work on keeping his mouth closed and not smiling/laughing so much!  He also chickened out going down the water slide on the last day.  I was ready to be done after the third day.  I guess things haven't changed much. :o)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lincoln Logs

Emily has been working on her structural engineering skills lately.  These are multiple views of one of her recent original designs.  Lincoln has been working on his demolition skills. ;o)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Riding in style

I found a barely used bike trailer on a Facebook for sale group and now we're riding in style!

End of T-ball

This week was the final T-ball game.  It was an extra game added at the last minute.  I think it was just so Grandpa & Grandma Boote could see Emily play!  My parents were visiting because my dad had an all-day dairy meeting in Independence.  He made it just in time for the game, and they were still able to head home afterward.
Last handshake line for #10

The cool participant trophy all the kids received with their name and team engraved on it.  Emily was so excited!

Sunday, June 24, 2012


The kids had a lot of fun harvesting our crop of radishes.  I pretty much planted them just for the fun of it since Austin is the only one who even likes them, although both Emily & I tried one--well Emily licked one. ;o)

A [painful] half marathon

Austin started running again this spring with the goal of improving his time in the Sturgis Falls Half Marathon in Cedar Falls.  He was doing great with his training and was on track to knock almost 15 minutes off his time.  However, about two weeks ago he started experiencing pain in his right foot.  A trip to the doctor last weekend revealed a negative x-ray with a diagnosis of Achilles Tendinitis.  Of course, the only real cure is rest, but Austin had worked so hard he decided to run the race anyway.

I literally dragged the kids out of bed after the race had already started so we could make it to the turnaround point at Gateway park around mile 10.  Austin was in a lot of pain the whole time, but he beat us to the finish line and came in at 1:55--only 2 minutes more than last year.  Now it's lots of rest, ice and Aleve!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Birthday bike

Austin & Emily surprised me today with a brand new bike for my birthday!  I received a 10-speed mountain bike on my 10th birthday from my grandma and finally ditched it when I graduated from college nine years ago.  I haven't owned a bike since.  It's long overdue!  Emily did a great job of picking out a cool purple (my favorite color) bike AND keeping it a secret for two weeks (they first picked it out while running errands during the garage sale).

We took a family ride around the neighborhood to try it out.  Unfortunately, Lincoln just can't keep up on his little tricycle. :o(  Emily & I went on an hour long ride later in the afternoon and checked out some new trail extensions that just opened this week.  After the kids went to bed I took a solo trip at full speed to Fareway to grab something for lunch tomorrow.  What fun! 

I have a lead on a used bike trailer for Lincoln.  I can't wait to do more biking!

Electronic recycling

I have been in a real organizing/cleaning mood for the last two days.  I harnessed the opportunity and finished cleaning up and putting things away in the attic and basement post garage sale.  One large pile of stuff that remained was "electronic trash".  I recently learned the Best Buy accepts old electronics and recycles them.  Austin packed up everything in the truck and dropped it off this morning.  The load included a 19" box TV, two computer towers (sans hard drives), three old/broken printers and at least two VCR and/or DVD players.  It turns out they weren't as excited about taking the smaller stuff like keyboards and cords.  Both Austin & I are just glad to have all that stuff off of the shelves and floor of the basement storage closet!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Soccer camp

One of the summer activities I signed Emily up for this summer was a mini soccer camp at Wartburg.  It was for 45 min. on MWF for two weeks.  About 25 kids ages 5-6 attended to learn basic soccer skills and terminology.  It was a good way to expose kids to the game and test the waters without jumping into a huge commitment.  I learned a lot, too, since I had almost no prior knowledge about the sport.

Emily had fun and was eager to attend and participate for the most part.  She was not overly aggressive, but did okay.  I could see her having fun playing recreationally.  It was the general consensus among the parents I sat by that they wanted to let their kid at least try soccer out and would be willing to go with it if they absolutely loved it, but were secretly hoping their kid didn't get into it so they wouldn't have to spend the next 10+ years traveling all over the territory every weekend playing endless numbers of games.  I think I'd have to agree. ;o)

Below are some snapshots of Emily on the last day (she's wearing pink shirt/black shorts).  There is also a video of the boys vs. girls "game" they played one day (she's wearing purple shorts/brown polka-dot tank top--yeah, she picked that one out herself).  You can hear Lincoln cheering beside me.  I was thankful on the two really hot, humid days they moved it from the football field into the air-conditioned field house. :o)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

VBS: Holopalooza

Our home church, Orchard Hill, puts on an amazing Vacation Bible School every summer.  However, after attending/volunteering last year, it was clear that driving 25 minutes to an evening program that runs past normal bedtime four nights in a row just wasn't going to work for the kids at these ages.  Emily still remembered going last year and asked about it, so I looked for a VBS program at a church in Waverly.  After the first one fell through, we learned about the Holopalooza at Grace Baptist Church, which was a take-off on Dr. Seuss characters.  One of the girls who had a big role in putting it together was in my Bible study in college and has babysat for us a few times. 

We missed the first night because of T-ball, but attended Tuesday-Thursday (which turned out to be plenty).  They did a fantastic job with all original programming and design (nothing out of a box).  There was a free family meal beforehand each night, which I took full advantage of since Austin was traveling out of town for work.  After family worship the kids went into classes/activities (Emily & Lincoln were in the same Pre-K/K class) for 90 minutes.  This gave me a much needed break to actually get some stuff done uninterrupted around the house.  Austin was home on the last night, so we had a mini date night and took a long walk together, which hasn't happened since our trip to Mexico in February.  Parents rejoined the kids at 8:00pm for closing worship and unfettered dancing in the aisles by the kids (see video in June play list).

It still got late, and the kids were cranky at bedtime, but they had a ball and begged to go back the next day.  The entire event was small with only about 30 kids total in attendance, but I hope to help spread the word next year for their great program!

These were some of the crafts the kids made in addition to bead bracelets and decorated prayer boxes.  The last night they talked about heaven, so the sticker drawing is Emily's picture of God (big with crown), her (small at bottom) and all the smiling people at the party in heaven.  :o)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

3 years + 1 month

Lincoln has made some huge strides this month.  The biggest has been the complete elimination of his pacifier.  I mentioned it in my post about his dentist visit last week.  I ended up hiding both of them when we got home from the dentist.  At bedtime I just announced that he was a big boy and didn't need his pacifier anymore because he had his blanket, puppy and trains to hold and hug.  There was a pitifully sad face and a few tears, but much less than I expected.  I laid with him until he fell asleep.  The next day I promised him new train engines to hold instead of his pacifier.  I ended up driving all the way to Target in Waterloo for the diesel engines named 'arry (I think it's supposed to be "Harry") and Bert from Thomas & Friends.  I have had to lay with him pretty much every night until he falls asleep, but it has gone a lot more smoothly than I was expecting (at least a lot less tears).  He still asked about it every night, and it took longer to fall asleep, but he was oftentimes too tired to fight it.

One of the reasons Lincoln has been so tired is because I have pretty much given up on regular napping.  The weeks before and after the garage sale he only napped twice and for less than an hour each time.  It has become much less convenient to have him nap in the afternoons, and even after laying with him for 45 min. he usually doesn't fall asleep.  Now he still could use a half a nap or a late nap based on the fact he fell asleep twice in the chair at 4:00pm this week, but then bedtime was harder and later.  I'm guessing he probably would still nap more if he had his pacifier, but we're not going back to that again.

Another area of progress for Lincoln has been potty training!  I can't remember if I've mentioned much about it before.  After the long struggles with Emily, I've pretty much just gone with the flow with Lincoln and not pushed much of anything.  However, soon after his birthday he actually peed in the potty for the first time ever (he's been sitting on the potty pretending to go for a year).  That led to some successes at bath time.  More recently he has also had some successes during the day.  It is hilarious to sit and listen to his constant narration about "making rocks" and "spraying water."  He is actually much better at going #2.  I did put him in underwear one morning this week.  He had a couple accidents, which I fully expected and actually wanted to happen so he could experience what it felt like.  Unfortunately, the dirty pants didn't seem to bother him. :op  It's slow progress, but I'm not in a hurry.  I learned my lesson last time. ;o)

The last big area of progress has been verbal speech.  To my mom's relief, Lincoln has started making some beginning /r/ sounds.  It started with water in the bathtub.  We've been practicing a lot with 'arry and Bert.  It will take a while, but I'm starting to hear it correctly here and there.  Many people have commented how much Lincoln's speech has come along lately and the fact that he's not shy (everyone is a friend to him, he just hasn't met them yet).  It's funny to listen to him talk because he sounds like he has a bit of a southern drawl at times.  I joke that it's to offset the Canadian accent Austin has developed from working with and talking to his Canadian partners all the time!  The one thing I have decided is that when Lincoln doesn't know what something is called or how to say it, he uses the generic word "han-o-heen".  I don't know where that came from or what it's supposed to be, but it gets used in all sorts of different situations.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Flying high on Father's Day

After letting Daddy rest on the couch and watch Dale Earnhardt, Jr. FINALLY win a NASCAR race, we ate a picnic pizza supper on the deck.  Then we took a family walk/ride to the football practice field at the high school to fly some kites.  We had mixed luck, but the kids enjoyed it!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Donsons Farm/WIDA open house

Every year the Western Iowa Dairy Alliance puts on an educational open house at a dairy farm.  was originally run by my grandpa (Don) and his sons.  My grandpa died following a farming accident when my dad was in college.  My grandma and the kids ran it together until my dad (Terry) and one uncle (Kevin) took over.  After my grandma moved to town, my uncle and his family moved to the home farm.  I grew up on an acreage on the other side town.  Together my dad & uncle now milk 140 cows, raise their own calves, grow 550 acres of crops, and feed 500 hogs.

The open house was held on June 16 and consisted of a self-guided walking tour with informational stations about all aspects of the process from feed nutrition to final product.  There was a kids area with activities and KC Wolf from the Kansas City Chiefs was there for entertainment.  Guests were also treated to a free breakfast and virtual tour at the Agropur cheese plant that is located across the road from the farm.

I'm so proud of my dad and uncle and have a lot of respect for all the hard work they've put in over the years.  I experienced what the life of a dairy farmer is really like the summer I turned 16 when my summer job was doing the morning milking, feeding calves and power-washing the parlor from 6:00am-9:00am Monday-Saturday.   I would have loved to be there this weekend, but it just didn't work out since we live four hours away.  Below are some links to a couple TV news stories and some pictures courtesy of my sisters' blogs along with links to their posts.

My dad, grandma and uncle
My silly sisters sporting the sanitary blue booties.  My nephew is not impressed.
Nephew Ryan checking out the feed rations

My sister, Abbie, introducing my niece, Saylor, to a baby calf.

Train tracks

This is what has occupied hours of the kids' time lately...

The track usually gets destroyed and rebuilt from scratch every 2-3 days.

Grump Days parade

Back in January, Austin got elected chairman of the Bremer County Republicans.  This means organizing and running a central committee meeting every other month and other various political events.  Today was the annual Grump Days parade in Readlyn, so Austin pulled the giant elephant float with his truck.  He took the kids along, which gave me a rare and wonderful morning at home by myself.  Lincoln loved it.  Emily got a little whiny and insisted in being buckled into her booster seat in the back instead of sitting up front where she could smile and wave.  Here are some snapshots Austin took of the morning.

Dancing in the rain

Okay, so it was just a few sprinkles, but they sure had fun!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

First dental check-up

Lincoln had his first dental check-up today.  It was a similar experience to the automatic car wash.  He talked a big game and was all excited until he was actually in the chair.  I ended up holding him on my lap.  My MOPS friend, Danielle, was the hygienist and managed to polish a couple teeth.  Lincoln screamed while I held him down so the dentist could count his teeth.  Three of his four two-year molars are finally coming in.  I was also told that his significant overbite was basically caused by the fact he still has a pacifier in bed and that we really needed to eliminate it as soon as possible to have a chance of things possibly correcting themselves as he continues to grow.  I knew the pacifier needed go, but had been dreading the transition, especially since my attempt last fall was a failure.  But it needs to happen.  Sigh...

On skinned knees

Skinned knees are just a part of childhood.  I have already documented Lincoln's propensity towards and reaction to them (minimal tears, excitement over clean-up and bandages and an immediate return to play outside before I even throw away the wrappers).  This week Emily got her first skinned knee of the year.  It was pretty nasty, but you would have thought she was going to die.  She cried hysterically for 10 minutes, barely let me touch it to clean it up, sat like an invalid at the dinner table refusing to straighten it and wailed as she limped up the stairs to bed.  She continued to limp around for days and constantly held up her shorts/skirt for fear it would touch it.  She temporarily forgot about it while at soccer camp Wednesday afternoon, but remembered again afterward.  She has gradually started getting over it as it has scabbed over and started healing.  And to think we haven't even attempted to take the training wheels off her bike yet.  Heaven help us!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New sidewalks

Lincoln was in heaven this week (with no chance of napping) as the sidewalk crews finally made it to our neighborhood.  There were three different sections of our front sidewalk that were replaced and big chunks across the street and around the block.  The crew tore up and relaid all of it one day and came back the second day to fill in dirt around the edges.  As soon as all the corners are ramped we'll have a great walking/riding neighborhood!