We experience God's grace when we see Him go beyond what He has promised, to give us gifts that we could never have created, earned, or deserved. Our children are two of those gifts of grace.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Fairy and the Dinosaur

Hi all -- here are some pictures to commemorate this Halloween!

Meredith was a fairy this year. This was mostly because I happened to buy this costume on sale last year the day after Halloween, in hopes she might be interested this year. After all her interest in villains, I wasn't sure she'd go for it, but sure enough - she loved it! (And Aunt Jaynie, she carried that princess wand you gave her a while ago too!). Lucas was a dinosaur (thank you, Salvation Army!). It didn't have a head piece, but that's probably just as well since he wouldn't have kept it on!

Here is Meredith at her preschool program. The girls were probably 50% fairies and princesses, but Meredith was the only one with the awesome pointy hat :)

Our babysitter dressed up the same day, so here is Hannah (aka "Mrs. Gnome") with Meredith (sans wings). So cute!

In the evening, we got all set to trick or treat. Meredith was really excited all day because she knew what it was. Lucas was clueless, but once we got going he was a big fan. He did try to walk into peoples' houses multiple times, and wasn't always clear about the candy transaction, but he is an extrovert (like his sister) so just the idea of running up to peoples' doors and having them talk to him was fun. They were also both very excited when they got to meet dogs - another love that they have in common.

I took a couple of pictures of Meredith outside -- the second is without the flash so that you can see her very cool fairy shadow.

Why was Meredith outside without Lucas? Well, we got about 3/4 of the way around our block and Lucas had a little crash. He tripped and splatted on his face. So we were done -- thankfully Meredith was very cooperative and we just walked quickly home while Rob tried to console our little Lucas-with-the-bleeding-mouth. Poor little buddy. I took a picture when we got home so we wouldn't forget the untimely end of his first real trick-or-treating experience. Hopefully next Halloween will end better for him!

So you don't worry, just know that his lip looks much better today (just a white mark). He only notices it once in a while, at which point he reminds me, pointing: "Boo boo!"

I think he has probably forgotten about most of the candy, too, but when he sees it he will want to eat it. He's like me. This is in contrast to Meredith: last night when she said she wanted to stay up a little late, I said, "How about after Lukie goes to bed, you could stay up for a little bit to see what you got in your candy bucket?". She replied, "Or I could read my Cinderella book" -- which is what she did. We did sort through her candy this morning, but I can see she is going to be a gold mine for me and Rob because she is less attached to her candy than I ever was!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Explorations of Disney, Sears, and "Bee"

I know that many kids say funny things, but I humbly suggest that Meredith is one of the funniest kids ever. I've been collecting quotes over the last few months and you can judge for yourself. Lucas is also starting to try some verbal communication, so I've got some details on that as well.



One day Meredith was, apparently, thinking about preschool and her preferences, and she decided to project her feelings on Raffi (a children's singer) by singing the following "song" to me:

"Raffi prefers to stay home
And be sick all day
He doesn't want to go to preschool
He doesn't want to go to preschool
And he doesn't want to go to preschool
He doesn't want to
He doesn't want to go to school all day

Raffi doesn't want to go to school
He doesn't want to do anything
Raffi prefers to stay home
Raffi prefers to stay home

(this seemed like some sort of "bridge")
He doesn't want to do something right
He doesn't eat lunch
He doesn't eat supper
He doesn't do anything
He just wants to play all day"

She is sure a creative little soul. And one with preferences, for sure.


This month Meredith was in one of her usual fantasy worlds, which as of late involve Disney characters since we have introduced some Disney cartoons. Here's a one-liner to make your head spin:

"I was so mad that I even convinced Bambi to sing a deer song from Disneyworld."


Lucas is having some fun learning vowels. Right now, only a few people close to him probably know that when he says something that sounds like "uh-oh" he probably means "apple", and when he drops something off his high-chair tray he is more likely to pronounce his accident "ah-ooh". (Well, it's not an accident at this age, but that's another story.)


It is always painful to have your child imitate you in, shall we say, unflattering ways. While her words aren't exactly identical to what I would say, I was still somewhat disturbed when I came home the other day and the babysitter recounted her experience with Meredith getting upset about something:

Babysitter: Meredith, can you use words to tell me why you're upset?

Meredith: (sternly) This discipline needs to end RIGHT NOW. You need to obey me please because I need to do some WORK.

Yikes! This was apparently followed by a lengthy impersonation of a parental lecture of some kind. Our babysitter thought it was hilarious. And you probably do too. Which is why I'm sharing it even though it makes me cringe!


If you are spending time with Lucas, it's important to know that the letter B is his favorite letter. He calls many things "baby." He know what it means, but it just applies a little more broadly for him than for most of us. One day he pointed to my watch, then the clock on the wall, then back to my watch and declared proudly: "Baby!"

Another common expression from him is "ba ba", which means (a) sheep or (b) bye-bye. If the context doesn't clue you in, he's usually waving his hand with it if he's saying goodbye.

Finally, there is the sound "bee." We have identified 7 things that he means by "bee." Two of them are distinguished by a growly delivery -- if it sounds growly, it's either "big" or "Beast" (from Beauty and the Beast, a new favorite around here). If it's not growly, it means "bean," "beep," "bee," "B," or "please" (accompanied in that case by the baby sign, so that's good). It is fun to see him trying to express himself, and I'm looking forward to a day when I can really find out what's going on in his little head!


Meredith watched "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and I found it affected her vocabulary a bit.

Meredith: How about that stupid dog?

Mommy: Let's not say that -- you don't need to call him that.

Meredith: How about that nice, mean dog that does stupid things?


It turns out that Meredith is primarily interested in villains. She likes Captain Hook (even pronounces Peter Pan as "Petah Pahn" like him). She likes Darth Vader. She wants to be a Decepticon (and if you don't know what that is, you are missing out, let me tell you).

She also likes Gaston from Beauty and the Beast -- an incredibly unlikeable character if there ever was one. The other day she whispered loudly to me, with great anticipation, "We're getting ready for a BEAST FIGHT!" I sorted out what she meant -- apparently I was to be the Beast (the good guy) and she would be Gaston. Now, the way the story is supposed to end is that they have a fight in which the Beast is winning, but then has mercy on Gaston, and then the coward Gaston stabs him in the back. He nearly dies until Belle declares her love for him at the last minute, breaking the enchantment and make him a man again. I wasn't sure how the reenactment was go because I wasn't sure Meredith had caught all this.

So we had our "beast fight" with some fairly harmless plastic toys as swords. I (the Beast) dominated but then had mercy on her (Gaston). Then she kept fighting and I feigned the receipt of a near-fatal blow. I fell on the couch and called out for Belle....

I admit, it was a bit of a test -- would Meredith transform into the needed character to finish the story? Would she have compassion on the Beast? Well, here's how it played out:

Mommy: Oh no! Gaston got me! I need Belle to come and give me her magic kiss! Where is Belle? I need Belle. She needs to tell me she loves me. Please help me, Belle! Where is Belle?

Meredith: Lukie can be Belle.

Mommy: Lukie, can I have a kiss?

And my sweetheart, Lukie, obliges with a loving "MUAH" on his Mommy's cheek :)


A conversation with Meredith about her hair after babysitter Miss Sarah did it for her:

Me: Miss Sarah is amazing with hair!

Meredith: Of course she is!

Me: Where do you think she learned that?

Meredith: At Sears!

Why the interest in Sears? I honestly don't know, but it is persistent. We looked for dryers there once, and things have never been the same. Case in point: I was at the mall with the kids last week with the intention of letting them play at the little indoor playland (it was too hot outside - yes, I'm serious). The playland was closed. I tried to offer up the best thing I could think of -- I would take them across the street from the mall, to Toys 'R' Us. Meredith was not really interested though -- "I want to go somewhere in the mall." I couldn't think of anyplace she would want to go, and then we figured it out: she wanted to go to Sears to see the dryers again. So we did.


And finally, to round out the post, a funny quote on Meredith's relationship with Lucas:

Babysitter: You have to be nice to Lucas - he's the only brother you have.

Meredith: He's the only brother I have LEFT!


She is a funny kid. I rest my case.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Convenient Summary

I got a video last week that really captures a lot about both of the kids. Meredith is performing as usual, and is basically oblivious to what is going on around her. She is busy composing in real time, and also showing off some fingering skills. Lucas, on the other hand, is interested in many things, particularly those he is not supposed to be able to reach. (For those who haven't been to our house, the wall of boxes and stuff behind Meredith is our mantle area, which we have stacked high with boxes so that he doesn't climb the brick area.)

This video also records the famous Lucas Shriek that we all know and love. I am thankful to have a real recording of it to harass him with when he is older.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Meredith and Lucas Super Quiz

As Lucas gets older, it become clearer and clearer that he and Meredith have very different personalities. Test your knowledge with this quiz...answers will be posted soon.

1. Which kid is more likely to go down a playground slide?
2. Who gets crazier bedhead?
3. Which kid could eat hummus for every meal?
4. Whose favorite toy is currently a stuffed Pluto from Disney World?
5. Who likes to hear Ave Maria sung for a lullabye?
6. Who is very interested in street signs?
7. Which child is obsessed with drinks?
8. Which of the kids sleeps better at night?
9. Which kid has the most bone-chilling screech?
10. Which kid is currently enthralled with the snap-crackle-pop of Rice Krispies?
11. Who did I recently find standing on top of our electric piano, holding onto the adjacent bookshelf?
12. Who likes to ride a big-kid bike with training wheels?
13. Who loves baths?
14. Who has strong preferences about clothing?
15. Do we have a daddy's-boy and a mama's-girl, or a daddy's-girl and a mama's-boy?

Put your answers in your comment and you'll be able to see how you did when I post the correct answers in a few days! Have fun!

Monday, July 4, 2011

"So Bring Me Tonight"

Here's Meredith showing her mad piano skills with another original song. I think there is a 4-note lick stolen from "Show Me the Way" by Styx (their line that begins "take me tonight" sounds similar to the "bring me tonight" that begins every line of her song). That just shows her good taste in music, right?

Lyrics are posted below...my favorite is when the "doggies and blankets" get introduced partway through. Except for that element, it has the makings of an 80's power ballad with some edgy content, such as the line "you can guess what I'm doin' in the night" (but we don't have to guess because it's abundantly clear from the rest of the song that the answer is "sleeping", and that you should know why).

Musically, my favorite thing is that she refuses to transition to falsetto, just belting it out louder when she wants to get higher!

If you don' t have 4 minutes for this, start at around the 1 minute 40 second mark to come in right after the instrumental bridge.

Lyrics to "So Bring Me Tonight"

(beginning involves some mumbling; I'll indicate other missing parts below with ...)

So bring me tonight

So bring me tonight
and you know why I'm sleepin' in the night

So bring me tonight
and you know why I'm sleepin' in the night
You can do it
I know that you can do it

So bring me tonight
and you know why I'm sleepin' in the night

(instrumental bridge!)

So bring me tonight
and you know why I'm sleepin' in the night
because you got
because you got bunny right (?) sleepin' in the night
(note: she has a giant stuffed bunny that sleeps by her bed, so this is my best guess)

So bring me tonight
to bed and I will fall asleep
with my puppies and my blankets
all day LONGGGGGG!
(note: as might be obvious, her sleeping companions are stuffed dogs and blankets)

So bring me tonight
so you can snuggle with your doggies and your blankets
all day LONGGGGGG!

So bring me tonight
to the river (I think? that's the Styx lyric)
and you can guess why I'm sleepin' in the night

So bring me tonight
you know why I'm sleepin' in the night
so you can sleep with your doggies and your blankets
and you know why I'm sleepin' in the NIIIIIIIIGHT!

So bring me tonight
you know why I'm sleepin' in the night
with your doggies and your blankets all day LONGGGGG!

So bring me tonight
and you know why I'm sleepin' in the NIIIIIGHT!

So bring me tonight
you can guess why I'm sleepin' in the NIIIIIIGHT!

So bring me tonight
(to the river?)
and you can guess what I'm doin' in the night

So bring me tonight
(to the river?)
and you can guess what I'm doin' in the night

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday, Meredith!

Last Thursday (June 16) was Meredith's 4th birthday! It was a great day. Here's the evidence...

Before her party, Meredith got a phone call from Grandma and Grandpa and told them how excited she was! She's wearing a special birthday pin she got from Oma and Opa too, and a new dress...my favorite yet!

Since Meredith's birthday was on our usual night for church small group at our house, we just invited the small group and a few others to share in the festivities. Our friend Sarah made Meredith an amazing cake...

...and she loved blowing out the candles!

Her friend Marin came over and they enjoyed their goodie bags.

We had very little in the way of "activities" planned for the evening, but the one thing Meredith and I had talked about was that she could do a bit of a concert for us, and maybe have us participate with instruments too. She embraced the idea at the party, and so after handing out all her instruments to everyone (and naming them all as she looked around the room making sure everyone had one) she led us in singing and playing three songs (Wheels on the Bus, 5 Little Ducks, and He's Got the Whole World In His Hands). Her leadership was infectious: "OK everyone!! Let's get ready for the show! It's time for the performance!". We call this activity "family band," and I think we'll do it again!

And of course there were presents. Here is a sampling of photos from the gift opening time (and FYI, neither of the babies below is Lucas, in case you are confused --they are Lucas's friends Elijah and Owen. Lucas was running around all night and I don't think he's in too many pictures!).

In these pictures, the backdrop of our TV with a slideshow of her growing up makes these photos extra special.

Bedtime was marked by wearing her new guitar PJs! The shirt says "Rock Star in the Making". Perfect!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

New Composition from Meredith

Meredith has really become a little songwriter lately. I have three videos to share, but I'll spread them out so that you don't get overloaded with delight all at once.

This one is a good example of her "songwriting"...she tries some lines out, then repeats/rephrases them. She fills in some of the tune with gibberish to keep the rhythm how she wants it. Usually by the next day both the tune and the lyrics are more solid. She still remembers them several days later, too!

Before you listen, please accept my apologies for the badly out-of-tune ukelele. We try to get it to sound better in the "open" position (though you can see she is also experimenting with the idea of fingering some chords too -- not that she knows any!). She is still holding the uke backwards, but everyone we've asked has agreed that there's no reason to change it. For what it's worth, she also bats left, but eats and writes right. Just one more fascinating thing about our Meredith!

This song is called "You Take Away My Sins". It is pretty theologically correct and almost makes me wonder if she is getting part of it from elsewhere, but it's not any song I know. I've posted the lyrics (with "..." where I can't understand her mumbling) below the video.

you take away my sins
forgiving grace
I know Jesus up in heaven
I know that Jesus up in heaven right now
He comes alive again

you take away my sins
forgiving grace
Jesus is up in heaven
I know that Jesus up

you take away my sins
Jesus up in heaven
Taking away your sin
Coming back again

you take away my sins and you
you take away my sins

Friday, June 3, 2011

"I'm a Lover, Not a Fighter"

This post is about the most affectionate person in our family: Lucas.

I decided that the best way to demonstrate this was to simply keep track of things that he kissed over the course of a week or so. Here's what we've got:

1) his medicine syringe
(he had his 3rd double-ear infection in 6 months - good thing he likes the medicine a lot)

2) a chicken drumstick (real)

3) a picture of a caterpillar that I drew on the Magna Doodle

4) a dirty spoon that he snagged from the dishwasher when I was loading it

5) the picture of a baby on the Huggie's diapers box (for what it's worth, he is much cuter than that baby, but you knew that...)

6) the top of a drinking glass (to be fair, it had Piglet on it from Winnie-the-Pooh)

7) the door of the kitchen cabinet in which he plays (he actually waved to it first, then kissed it, multiple times)

8) the china cabinet in the dining room (again coupled with a wave)

9) the maple leaf on the Canada shirt he was wearing today

You might wonder what these kisses look like -- well, you are in luck. Here is a video in which Lucas takes a look at a baby in a book and then gives a baby doll a nice kiss. He is sort of "set up" in the video (it's hard to catch it happening organically) but it's always the same open-mouthed kiss with a sort of dramatic "muah" even when it's spontaneous. Enjoy!

Before I go, let me just leave you with a trivia contest: if you know where I got the quote for the title of this entry, leave it in your comment!
Hint: It is from a song, but is spoken in the middle of it. Full credit requires the name of the speaker, the person being spoken to, and the song itself. First person to get it right gains the acclaim of all the others. (You know you got this, Anita!)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Meredith's newest composition

Meredith likes books a lot, and has recently started asking about the punctuation marks. Rob told her what each mark was called and we've been working on helping her understand their functions -- seems a little intense, but she seems to be catching on to some things (ex. an exclamation point means you "say it really loud!"). There was some difficulty distinguishing apostrophes and commas at first, but now she knows which one is "at the top" and which is "at the bottom".

On their way home the other day, Rob heard Meredith singing about the punctuation in the book she was reading in her carseat. We thankfully got her to recreate the song for us at home. This is absolutely priceless! I've titled it: "I Love Dashes (You Can Believe It)" for reasons that will become obvious as you watch it. It proceeds in two movements (such as they are) so it's a little over 3 minutes, but the best parts are the beginning and then a rhythmic interlude just after the 2-minute mark.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lucas communication round-up!

At 13 months old, Lucas is well on his way to being a great communicator. Here's the list so far:
  • please (the baby sign -- generally means "more Cheerios")
  • all done (baby sign)
  • sound of a cow ("bvvvvvvvv", which is what "mooo" sounds like when you don't open your mouth while doing it)
  • sound of a sheep (very clear "ba ba ba ba")
  • sound of an airplane (self-explanatory)
Occasionally, I'm also able to convince him to repeat after me the word "Yuck!". Other than verbal (and baby sign) communication, he's also an expert at pointing, whining, and tugging on your pant leg. Screaming occurs when he is in the high chair but the food you put in front of him has run out.

Ah, for the uncomplicated life :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

philosophers, irons, football, and dumpsters

I found another old scrap of paper with a Meredith story/quotes from last fall, or maybe even summer! Plus I've got the more recent ones to share.


We have 4 magnetic finger puppets on our fridge. They were a baby shower gift for Meredith long ago, and she learned their names soon after she started talking: "Kant" "Nietzsche" "Hegel" and "Plato". My friend clearly had education in mind with these odd little toys.

One day I heard Meredith groan, "Oh, Kant!".
I asked what he did wrong (it was clear he was at fault for something given her tone).
"He's puttin' crackers all over him." She then showed me Kant, with bits of Cheez-Its crumbs down his little vest. I laughed.

Not much later, I heard, "Oh, Nietzsche!"
What now?
"He dumped the crackers all over the floor!"

This one was clearly not our philosopher friend's fault, so I had to end the fun, but it was sure hilarious.


More recently, Meredith wondered aloud about irons.

Meredith: "What do irons do? They don't have mouths to sing or hands to play the guitar."
Mommy: "So what do they do?"
Meredith: "I don't know. I guess they just live in the closet."

She seems to know exactly what our iron does (and that is, indeed, ALL it does).


Yesterday Meredith was wearing her favorite Gator outfit. She told me she was Tebow -- I don't even know how she remembers his name, given how little she was when he played for us, not to mention how tangential football is to our lives. But there you have it. We decided to go play outside, and she shouted with great excitement:

"I'm gonna run and pretend that my hands are footballs!"

So THAT was Timmy's secret. Football hands.


Finally, Meredith is very interested in dumpsters right now (and terrified of garbage trucks - go figure). We were on a walk and, at the back of a church parking lot near our path, there was a small dumpster. She wanted to go see it (thankfully it was empty!). When we walked over to it, I'm quite sure that she put together a pair of sentences that no one has ever said before. Ever.

"Hi, dumpster! Would you like me to dance for you?"

She proceeded to rock out for the dumpster.

The next time we visited it, she had a song in her head that I was not familiar with. It involves the phrase "Alive again" over and over, and I could only guess that it was some Sunday School or preschool song she had learned about Jesus. However, that day, it was modified for the circumstances. It went (with a very definite tune and rhythm, repeated for the two "verses"):

"Alive again!
Alive again!
The dumpster is alive again!

The dumpster is
alive again!
The dumpster is alive again!"

And so on. At home, she sings it with the accompaniment of her ukelele.

The next week at Sunday School the teacher helpfully mentioned to me that this week they were talking about understanding the concept of "alive", because they were studying the little girl that Jesus raised from the dead. I could just picture them asking the kids to give examples of things that are alive and Meredith helpfully answering: "Dumpsters!"

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Some old gems from Meredith

I have saved a few Meredith quotes on little scraps of paper...these are all from the fall. I'll have a spring set next time. Enjoy!


Meredith was saying that something was "dangerous" and I asked about it.

Mommy: What is dangerous?
Meredith: "The burning bush is coming to get us!" Moses said.

Later she told me more about the burning bush, which (if you aren't familiar with it) was a sign that God gave Moses to get his attention. It was burning but was not consumed. Meredith's version is just slightly modified:

"Did the burning bush burn up? NO!..."

I beam with pride, then...

"...It burned DOWN!"


Meredith had a sentiment I certainly shared back in September:

"I want to have some wintertime!"


The idea of cause and effect worked backward for a while for Meredith. If you asked her why someone wore a helmet, she said it was because they hurt their head. She also got germs on her hand because she washed them. I have since confirmed that she now understands how helmets work, and she is justly mortified when she sees someone on a motorcycle without one!


Last one for today...this is from November. I must have been blowing her nose on a day she was wearing a Gator shirt.

"Only Gator players have snotties in their nose! That's what Gator players DO!"


More later, but hope you got a giggle.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happy Birthday, Lucas!

No, I haven't forgotten about this blog. It's just that I have these two small children who keep me VERY busy. I'm going to try to post short things, more often, instead of trying to compose longer updates.

Today's post will just be photos from today's very successful photo shoot at JCPenney, in honor of Lucas's birthday (which was on Tuesday). He is wearing my absolute favorite outfit. We had trouble getting big smiles, but as it is he still looks adorable -- even if a bit melancholy in some shots. Hard to believe he is already a year old! Hope you enjoy seeing what a big boy he is, and how much he and his sister love each other :)

(He stood for at least 7 or 8 seconds while she took his picture - a new record for him!)

This boy is going to be a heartbreaker. Look at those eyes!

Meredith patiently waited for her opportunity to join in the pictures, and we got a couple of cute shots of the two of them.

And since I was there with them, the photographer thought we might like one with all three of us. I didn't order this one (I'll wait for one when we have Rob there too) but I figured I could let you all see what I look like with my two kids hanging on me!

Hope you enjoy the pictures, and I will be posting some fun musings from Meredith in my next post. I've been saving them up and plan to deliver them in delectable bite-sized portions...