Thursday, January 30, 2014


Just a few pictures of some of the things we've been up to since we've been homebound! This one is for Heidi, who sent a "Just Because" package that contained this for Olivia. She adores them!!

And one of the kids' latest games has been decorating the castle. See the bows?!

And with these snow days, Olivia and I finished organizing the kitchen drawers during Leo's naps! Hooray!

Look Grandpa Bill and Tamara! I think there are gold finches here already! And some cardinals!

Snow days!

Tuesday morning we were expecting a dusting of snow, so I loaded up the kids in the van as I always do before ballet and headed for the library around nine o'clock. We usually go each Tuesday morning before Olivia's ballet class at 10:30 to restock on books for the week. The snow had just started to fall, and it was pretty. Olivia asked if she could catch snowflakes on her tongue before we left. The kids were mesmerized by the swirls of snow on the road as we drove downtown. I checked to make sure ballet hadn't been canceled, and headed into the library around 9:20. I didn't bring my phone. By the time we walked to our van at 10:05, all hell had broke loose. The snow was sticking, people were panicking, ballet had been canceled. I loaded the kids up and headed back to our place. The fifteen minute drive took 90 minutes. There were accidents on almost every street I looked down. There were major waits at every hill as people spun off the roads around us. The bridge was scary. I checked in with Nicholas, who hadn't left yet for work, and told him to stay home even though the university hadn't canceled classes yet. They did soon after. For the next day, and Thursday, too. We were super lucky that (1) we got home before city and county schools canceled their classes and the roads became full of people trying to get their kids and get home, (2) we had a full tank of gas, so our waits weren't a big deal, (3) we had snacks, music, and the iPhone in the car, and most of all (4) that our van has traction control and we didn't end up in an accident and we made it home. Other's weren't so lucky. Kids spent the night in schools because their parents couldn't reach them. Others made it home after 4-5 hours on the road. Others had to spend the night somewhere else.

Once we got home, we played in the snow a little bit. It was cold, so we weren't out long. Leo wasn't having it and asked to sit in the stroller.

"Sledding" on the hill!
Making sure she doesn't go off the edge!
Leo hanging out in the stroller.

Look closely. There is a goldfinch there! 
 We played again yesterday morning taking a lesson from Tuesday by adding more layers and doubling the mittens, and by today the snow is gone. We've had a lot of fun playing outdoors and in on these "snowy" days!

I love the following sequence of Olivia showing Leo how to make a snow angel!

Look at the joy!!  
Look at the mess! It was worth it!

Little Miss had cold hands and feet, and didn't want her picture taken. Ha!

And then she laughed!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Back home

We are well past the middle of January and I haven't posted about being back home. Since we've been back,

  1. Grandma Clara rode home from our trip with us and overnighted here before my Uncle Roger came to pick her up for a visit with him in Dothan, AL. It was fun to visit with her on the trip and play with the kids once we got here.

  2. At a rest stop in Tennessee taking a rest!
  3. Schools were closed due to "cold." Seriously, Olivia's ballet class was canceled. At 10:30 the day it was closed, the thermometer in my car read 30 degrees. Come on, people! But, we've had lots of use of the easel the kids got for Christmas, and we've broken out the play dough several times. Messy indoor activities!
  4. I "cashed" in one of my Christmas presents from Nicholas and had my friend who is an organizer come over and get me started organizing drawers. The amount we accomplished in the span of two kid-free hours was astonishing--all eight of the drawers in my office space are now de-cluttered and organized. It was inspiring, too! I've organized the kids' bathroom drawers, the kids bathroom cabinets, one kitchen drawer, and one of my bathroom drawers. My goal is to get three more kitchen drawers finished before the end of January. Here are a few sample organized drawers! I am so proud! (If you are Tuscaloosa area reader and want my friend's number, let me know!)

  5. Nicholas has been regularly taking the kids to school so that I can work from 7:30-12:30 some mornings a week. This makes up for losing our babysitter on Wednesday afternoons in terms of my hours. Thanks, honey!

  6. One morning when Nicholas took them to school. Cheese!

  7. Olivia is back into ballet and she is doing great! She dances around the house, and I feel that I can see what she is learning even in the way she moves her legs and feet. She is ever more graceful than I am! Today they started practicing for their recital on May 10, which is a Peter Pan Theme. 
  8. Olivia's classroom picked up another teacher this term and two new students, and Olivia is getting more small-group reading time. She is excited about our fifteen minutes of reading lessons that we started each afternoon in December and are just getting back into. (We always read for 30 plus minutes during "quiet time," but we just started the reading lessons where she does Hooked on Phonics, word family books, or I write some words or word families for her to read.) She can read lots of three letter words by sounding them out and has about twenty sight words.
  9. Leo moved up to the next classroom at school--the young two's--even though he is one and they do activities with the next class up, which is the young three's, as their classrooms physically are joined. Although he had a rough first day, he has been doing great since then. Leo, though he doesn't articulate his words quite as well as Olivia did at this age, is talking in sentences just as much. And he counts to fourteen correctly. And he knows most of his colors. And he is singing. And he recognizes MANY letters and numbers, which is just shocking to me since we are not teaching him that directly. And he is just a cool kid in terms of being able to play independently for a while, take directions, and make all of us laugh with his silliness and affection.
  10. Mom came down to stay with us for a week! She brought a truck load of stuff that we couldn't fit in our van on our way back, including the red car from Grandpa Bill and Tamara, Abby's old bike with training wheels for Olivia, and lots of Abby's old clothes for Olivia. And then she helped me A LOT by watching kids so I could work more, sewing buttons onto coats and sweaters and flowers back onto dress-up outfits, hemming curtains, washing curtains, fixing curtains that I made that needed tacking up, baking bread, getting up with Leo so that I could get more sleep, and watching kids so that Nicholas and I could go out on a date! Hooray! I love you, Mom, even though I snap at you! 

  11. Olivia is learning to ride a bike! The first day that Mom brought Abby's bike, Olivia was ready to go, with training wheels, of course! And so Leo is beginning to take over the tricycle. He is pedaling some!

  12. Grandma came back up to meet Mom so that they could drive back together. It was fun, again, to have Grandma here to visit with for a while since we don't get to see her very often.

  13. This is a ridiculous picture of all of us. Mom and Grandma are more beautiful than it betrays, Olivia is sweeter than she was acting that day, and I have no idea what Leo and I are doing, but it is the only one where you can see all of our faces. Sigh.

  14. We spent MLK day at the zoo! We love the zoo pass we got for Christmas from Mom and Dad! I love that we can go to zoos all over the country for free! Leo loved the drums and the train...especially the train. Olivia loved the giraffes, the zebras, riding on Daddy's shoulders, and the carousel...especially the carousel! Nicholas and I loved watching the kids watch the animals, and getting to hear the lion really roar! Spectacular on that sunny, warm day in January!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Christmas Trip 2013: Grandpa Bill and Tamara's house

And last, but not least, we spent a couple of nights with Grandpa Bill and Tamara! We had Christmas #4 the first night we were there, and the kids were super excited about all the presents to open and all the gifts they received. Nicholas and I were, too, for that matter! Bill and Tamara outdid themselves, and we fully expect to get nothing next Christmas since they were SO generous this Christmas!

Tamara set up a little Christmas village in the music room, and the kids loved it!

And then there were gifts to open!

One of her favorite gifts--a book and bracelet!
Loving the puzzle!

Admiring Leo's harmonica.

Grandpa Bill and Tamara bought this hand made wooden train when I was pregnant with Leo after we found out we were having a boy! Leo loves it!

Look at the abundance!

Loving the drums!

On Nicholas's Christmas list, a Ford Shelby Mustang appeared. This sweet ride was Tamara and Bill's answer to that! Ha! The kids love it! It didn't fit in our van for the ride home, so Mom brought it down when she arrived for a short visit yesterday. The battery is plugged in now!

To the kids and my delight, we had a little snow!! Even though it was just a dusting, we played in it anyway!

Look closely. There is an angel on the ground!

Another angel!

Trying to throw snow balls!

And there was much dancing, running, and playing in the music room while we were there! 

That box that the car came in was pretty fun in it's own right, of course!

We had so much fun playing and visiting! Thanks to Tamara and Bill for being so accommodating to our family and having such a great time visiting with all of us!