Friday, June 21, 2013

...and the livin' is easy...

When the thermometer in the minivan read 91 degrees, I kicked myself for not bringing swimsuits on our errands so we could hit a splash pad on the way home. Then I remembered the original splash pad.












Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Surprise Toys Revisited


After our first official day of summer vacation on Monday, I sent the kids to one more day of child care yesterday and reorganized the toys in their playroom and the basement storage room.  This is becoming an every-six-months routine.  

When facing a long winter of playing inside or summer spent mostly at home, I find it helpful to do a little purge (only one big garbage bag for Salvation Army from yesterday) and shift bin contents to accommodate all that was acquired since the last clean-up.  For example, the one big arts-and-crafts bin is now two medium-sized bins, one designated just for play dough toys as we now have quite a few, and the other for finger paints and other supplies.  


I hoped to organize a few other areas of the house as well, but as is typical, the day was only so long.  After I picked the kids up we played outside and ate sandwiches at the picnic table for dinner.  When I mentioned that they hadn't seen the "surprise toys" in playroom yet, Michael set down his roll-up and announced with a mouthful that he was all done.  I convinced him to take a couple more bites before he insisted that we go in and play.  

Both kids tend to remind me of that Meijer school supply commercial when they discover these old toys that they've played with before but that have just been stored away for a while. Michael came running out of the playroom with the tiny shoe box of rocks that are fun to spill around when playing with dinosaurs (and I couldn't figure out which bin they should be stored in now, so out they came).  He held it up and shouted, "Mommy, it's rocks!"  I just love him.

I hope the enthusiasm for this batch lasts a good while.  Anyone wish to place bets on how long until I'm taking advantage of my better organized stash and bringing up more?

These aren't all toys.  Some are bins our outgrown items, MoMs club supplies, all kid-related stuff. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Father's Day 2013

As I cleaned up dinner one night this past week, I caught a glimpse of Mike and the kids in the living room.  He was on his hands and knees with Michael on his back, giving him a horsey ride.  Sophie was walking beside them, leading Mike along and calling him Tinkerbell.

In moments like those, the decisions like what preschool, which house, and what the heck is for dinner tomorrow all seem equally insignificant.  I got the most important choice right for Michael and Sophie, and I couldn't be more grateful.

To Mike, my dad, Mike's dad and grandpas, and all men who give their time and hearts to our young people, happy Father's Day!  Thanks for all that you do.

We took this picture right after school/work one afternoon, Sophie with paint on her shirt and a random bow in her hair that disappeared at the child care center weeks ago. Gotta love a little authenticity!  I got the idea here.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Some snapshots

The school year is almost over.  Just a few half-days of exams and a couple days of grading to go!  Then I hope to blog a little more regularly again.  Until then, here's a little phone dump.

One night recently a couple of tigers helped me make dinner (Michael and Sophie made the masks at school that day).
Tricycles + Squirt Bottles = Three-year-old Bliss

Twin club picnic fun!  

He's a handsome little punk, isn't he?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Bye-bye to Gigi

Dear Michael and Sophie,

You know how you love watching those videos of your first steps, Michael turning in circles and then finally taking step after step, and Sophie wobbling on one foot and then the next to Daddy with his hands out to catch her?  Me too.  Daddy and I had our cameras ready to roll for days knowing you were both about to do it, knowing you were about to reach a first, and we were excited about it.

Sadly, on Memorial Day 2013, you experienced a first that Daddy and I feared was coming.  You lost your first person.  On that day your Gigi died.

With Gigi-1
I regret that we didn't take dozens of pictures like this one over the last few years, not just so we would have them, but so Gigi and Papa would have had that many more snuggles with you...and you with them.  Papa better watch out, because I hope to make up for lost time.

Do you remember when we took you to visit Gigi in the hospital?  I hope you do and that it helps you to understand this loss a little bit. You saw Gigi in her bed with tubes to help her breathe, and you seemed to understand that she was very, very sick, that she couldn't talk or hug you, and that we were all very sad because she probably wasn't going to get better.  

We talked that morning about how when people live a long, long time like Gigi did, sometimes their bodies can't get better when they get very sick.  You gave Gigi pictures you drew for her, told her you loved her, and we made sure you said very clear good-bye's before we left.  Like those first steps, we knew that visit would probably be the last time to say those things, so we tried to prepare as best we could. 

With Gigi-2

Like showing you Gigi in the hospital, Daddy and I thought it was important for you to experience Gigi's funeral, to sit with family as we cried and hugged and cried some more.  We told you that Gigi had died, and that it meant her body stopped working and we wouldn't see her again.  We told you what happens at a funeral, who would be there, and that many people would cry. Gigi was Daddy and Uncle Nick's grandma, Papa's wife, and Grammie's mom, so lots of people were going to be sad.  You were ready to give and get lots of hugs because that helps everyone when we're sad.

Because Daddy and I loved Gigi so much and were so sad that she died, we wanted to be sure we didn't miss any of the funeral.  You sat right behind us with Grandma and Grandpa (my parents) in case you needed to leave.  We made sure that they brought you into the church in a way that you wouldn't see Gigi's body.  We just didn't feel it was time for you to see that.  It turned out that you did just fine.  Michael did announce that he had raisins and that he wanted more raisins a couple of times, but even in those moments your innocence and cuteness seemed to help a lot of sad people that day.  I believe Gigi would have been happy that you were there with all of us.

Do you remember hearing this song at Gigi's funeral?  

One of her friends made us all cry even more by playing this and inviting us to think of Gigi dancing...with Uncle Ryan in heaven.  As time goes on we'll talk more about what people believe about heaven and certainly more about Gigi and Uncle Ryan.  There's so much more to share with you when you're ready.

What I'll tell you for now is that Daddy and I both keep thinking of Gigi's voice latley, proudly saying, "Where are my babies?" She always called out for you when she arrived for Christmas and Easter and all other family get-togethers if she knew you were there.  Whenever Gigi called us on the phone, often worried about how we were doing during bad weather or having heard about one of us being sick, one of her first questions was always "How are my babies?"  Many of Gigi's church friends told us how she always had a new picture and a story of you two to share.  In all of these ways Gigi showed us that you brought a special kind of joy to her life.  She loved you very much.

Having lost all of my grandparents over the years, I can tell you that when people love you with joy in their hearts for your whole life, that love sticks with you after they're gone.  It stays with you in your memories of them.  Daddy and I, with the help Grammie and Grandpa and Papa and Uncle Nick and Aunt Molly, we're going to do our best to tell you what we know about Gigi's life.  That way all of our knowledge and memories of her will stay with you, and her love for you can lift you up in that special I've-loved-you-forever kind of way.  In that way she'll live on.

With (lots more of that kind of) love,

P.S.  When Gigi was young, she loved to dance...

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fantastic Gymnastics


With one class to go in the session, Michael and Sophie received ribbons at gymnastics yesterday.  Knowing this was happening, I was sure to finally bring my phone along to capture some of this fun. Here's a bit of what I got in between lifting my shorties up to the bars, handing them rings and ropes, and making sure they remembered to wait their turns.

Sophie on the bar.

Michael on the rings.

Not the best stuff, but I tried. They've done way cuter, way more impressive stuff, but you can always ask their Grammie (Mike's mom) or Grandpa (my dad) to vouch for that.  Both of those grandparents filled in for Mike after his recent surgery, and like all grandmas and grandpas they're completely unbiased regarding Michael and Sophie's cuteness and abilities, I swear.  ;)

Aside from the confidence this class seems to have given Michael and Sophie, it also inspired a new ending to games of Follow the Leader at home.

This is how their gymnastics classes end--the bye-bye song, stickers, and stamps.  We told their teacher about the bye-bye song showing up at home, and she said that happens a lot.  It is pretty catchy.

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