Saturday, November 12, 2016

Fall pictures--finally!

Matthew and I decided to do some updates tonight from the many many hundreds of photos languishing we'll see how many I get through before he requires more hands-on attention. He's currently lying in my lap playing a symphony with his little backside...yikes. 

One of the things on our bucket list this fall was to visit the corn maze, so away we went! Kids, if you are reading this years later, KNOW YOU WERE LOVED BECAUSE I TOOK YOU TO A CORN MAZE TWO WEEKS AFTER HAVING A BABY. Just in case you forgot. (And I didn't punch the 20-year-old hipster girl who said, "Uh, seriously, who like brings a baby to a corn maze...")

I was actually really proud of myself that night--got everyone's homework and music practice done, fed them all dinner & cleaned it up, packed lunches and laid out clothes for the next day, then drove 30 minutes to meet Neil at the corn maze. It was quite the logistical feat on my own...this was just a couple of days after my mom left.

But they had a great time. It was worth it.

We traipsed all around collecting punches on our little maze map that were good for discounts at various local businesses--the kids were SUPER passionate about collecting punches for places we have never even heard of...

And Nate would have been content to stay here all day--haha!

 We had a great time playing with all the other stuff at the maze--you can probably tell from the hay in Luke's hair that he had a GREAT time jumping in the giant hay pile. And then we wandered the maze for an hour and finished up as the moon came out--it was a beautiful night. One thing I really like about this particular maze is that the path through the woods between the maze and the parking lot is lit up with strings of bubble lights, and there are a few campfire spots along the path, so it smells like woodsmoke and trees and crisp fall air...all lit up with bubble lights in the woods. Pretty much perfect.

And some baby photos! All mixed up at different ages.

I think these are maybe 3 weeks?

His first walk in the woods, right around 2 weeks. He slept happily in my arms as we hiked for an hour and I could barely move them afterwards. Fortunately he's now big enough for the front carrier, thank heavens!

Trying to take a few selfies with him one day...he wasn't really into it.

At all.

And brand new baby! Brand new! Just seconds old!!

Loved the time I was able to spend one-on-one with this sweet dude in the hospital. I was holding him today telling him that I used to nap with his other siblings when they were newborns...but no time for that with my Matthew!

Funny little troll face just after coming home from the hospital...

A few more race-day photos from my half in October--I really liked this one Neil snapped of us walking back to the car.

And just post-race (I was seriously like 2 seconds from keeling over...right after we took this photo I had to sit down really fast).

While we were waiting for the kids' fun run to start I saw my friend who had just finished her first half marathon!! Such a great accomplishment!

Donuts on strings--this was my bright spot of laughter on the hardest of the days that Neil was gone.


Nathan didn't participate because he doesn't like donuts...just sprinkles. He was happy to watch.

Caught Isaac mid-laugh. Love this dude so much. He is really thriving in his new school & class...his teacher is absolutely awesome and he gets all kinds of time to write his stories down and read Harry Potter to his heart's content. He's currently on book 6 and he totes that giant book to and from school every day (last year we managed to get him to leave one copy of his current HP at school and use another one at home, but this year he's convinced that he's big enough to carry it...). I was looking through his writing stuff the other day and he had a great little word web about me--"lots of kids," "loves to read to me," "bakes," "likes to go to the woods," etc. Always fun to see yourself from your kid's perspective--I need to take a photo of that one. Isaac started piano this fall and he loves it so much--he's the only kid I have to say, "Okay, now STOP practicing and go do something's your sister's turn to practice because you've been at the piano for an hour!"

Whenever we go to the woods the girls are obsessed with crossing ravines on fallen logs. I remember loving the same thing at their age when my dad would take us on these really long Sunday walks around our property...probably why I like to do the same thing on Sunday afternoons now!

 One of the two times we made Halloween sugar cookies...the kids love this so much! We won't win any prizes for decorating, but they are soooo darn tasty.

More Sunday walks, more tree-crossing. :-)

Luke is thriving in kindergarten--he is only there for 2 hours a day, but he's getting to be quite the little reader and I'm really glad we were able to reach an agreement with the school about having him home with me most of the day. He needs to be home to do important things like eat his food while dressed like Baba Yaga. ;-) He is super super super into Play-Doh right now (some days he thinks he might be a sculptor when he grows up) and he usually spends at least a couple hours a day coming up with really intricate creations--one of my favorites was a giant clamshell with carefully scalloped edges that opened up to reveal all sorts of little treasures inside. So I'm thrilled that he is able to be home to do hours of Play-Doh and crazy imaginative games with Nathan (yesterday he hitched himself to the booster seat and buckled Nathan in so they could play sled dog) and hours of cuddling with me reading...we finished up the Little House books and started Harry Potter.

Isaac lost his first tooth! Big milestone--he decided to seal it up in an envelope and hide it so the Tooth Fairy wouldn't nab it by accident. ;-)

More cookie decorating...

Snuggling up to read together on my bed...I was feeding Matthew in the corner and just loved rocking back and forth watching these two girlies reconnect after a long day at school. Abigail is absolutely thriving in middle school. We're adjusting to never having homework--which is CRAZY after the hours of homework in elementary school!!! After elementary school our district no longer offers the fully immersive high-ability classes, and instead students are able to test in to advanced math & advanced English, both of which she is taking, but all the other classes are now mainstream. She is doing super well in all her classes, made the "Distinguished Honor Roll" for her first nine weeks, and is making amazing progress with both clarinet and piano. Honestly, we are just really in a wonderful place with her right now--she is super responsible, always helpful, and an absolutely amazing girl. She is also a fabulous babysitter so we're really loving that. :-) She is totally hilarious too and is so perceptive--I love talking with her every day when she gets home from school. It's so nice having an hour with to focus on her before the next two get home from school. Two of her really good friends moved over the summer, but she has one really great friend still there that she does quite a bit with and then a nice little group of friends from her class last year. Starting to see a little bit of middle school drama, but I am really proud of how she's handling it. She is really good about noticing and appreciating the things I do, which is pretty darn awesome--I am totally loving that validation! So nice to have a kid say, "Hey, thanks for folding my laundry--that was really nice of you" (usually they're supposed to do it themselves) or "That was an awesome dinner--thanks for the time you put in." Basically right now Abigail is at a stage that shows me that all the hard work we're putting in with the younger kids really is worth it--hah!

Juliet is also adjusting really well to her new school--as with Abigail, the leap from the 2/3 HA class to the 4/5 HA class definitely took some work, patience, and prayers. One of the big challenges for her was that at her old school they learn the multiplication tables in grade 4, and in this school it's grade 2. So that was pretty rough for awhile there, but she buckled down and worked SO hard...I was really proud of her! She had all those tables down inside of a week, thanks to her little homemade flashcards that she carried in her pocket and ran through whenever she had a free moment (I think most of those got memorized on the bus!). She also worked really hard to learn to consistently slow down and double-check her work, and while it was pretty rocky for awhile there she has been doing so much better and I love seeing her grin of happiness when she looks over all her graded work at the end of the week. She's worked hard for it and she's developing such good life skills and study habits. Her teacher also told me at PT conferences that Juliet is friends with everyone and endlessly energetic--a pretty perfect descriptor of my bouncy girl! We've started to see more emotional volatility this past year but she is learning to control her emotions and calm herself down. Again...great life skills. :-)

Nathan is soooo sweet with Matthew. So, so, so sweet. He told me tonight he couldn't decide whether he loved me more or Matthew more, which is a pretty big deal. He is totally rocking the big brother thing!

One night everyone thought it would be funny to join Matthew for some floor time...

These are posted by permission and make me laugh SO much!!! Outtakes from one Sunday when we were looking right into the sun and the kids were trying SO hard to still smile with eyes open! (Luke gave up.)

And the photo I texted Neil the first night he was gone...

Luke had this huge list of Halloween food he wanted to make, thanks to a holiday cookbook we checked out of the library. He was super happy to make "mummy dogs," the other kids were super happy to try them, and then pretty much we, we would rather eat crescent rolls separately rather than wrapping them around hot dogs. Oh well!

Nathan showing me EXACTLY the kind of face he wanted his jack-o-lantern to have ("with a big scary mouth like DIS!")

And more woods walks. I love that beautiful little face. He is such a doll.

Juliet had an overnight field trip last week to Lake Michigan. They played in the sand, went on hike after hike, roasted marshmallows, and came home filthy, exhausted, and bursting with stories!! We missed her SO much but she had a wonderful time with her best friend and other classmates. She was sure careful about stocking up on hugs and kisses in the 24 hours before she left, and I stuck a note in her pajamas with a few more just in case she needed them to tide her over. ;-)

Nathan is just as into construction equipment as ever and was pleased as punch when some new shirts came in the mail from Grandma--we've designed the route we take to pick Luke up every day so it routes around Nathan's favorite construction sites, and he gives me a running narration on what equipment is out that day!! My parents visited a few weeks ago and my dad took Nathan and Luke to get donuts (with sprinkles!) and then they sat by a construction site for an hour and watched...Nathan was in heaven!

 He has expanded his outside goings-on from digging underneath the swings to swinging on the swings, sailing high into the sky on his tummy while he belts out his favorite John Denver songs at the top of his lungs..."I am dah EAGLE I live in high country, in rocky cathedrals dat reach to dah SKYYYYYY..."

 And sweet Matthew, or Matt the Wajax, as we sometimes call him (matthewajax)...he is pretty darn awesome. Still not sleeping as well as I'd like at night--he's in a stage where his big awake period comes after the other kids are asleep and lasts until about 1, which is pretty hard, but he sleeps beautifully after that and goes back to sleep every time he wakes up to nurse.

We'll keep him. :-)


Kayli said...

How can you stand to do anything when your kids are so stinking adorable?! I love all these pictures! I was going to tell you specific ones but I'm tired, and there were just so many anyway, you get a collective vote in favor or cute kids pictures.

Rachael said...

Haha! Funny because I think YOUR kids are crazy gorgeous.

Meghan said...

So many wonderful things happening in your life. You are laying up wonderful treasures in heaven.

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