Sunday, July 26, 2015

Baseball 2015

This baseball season was a hard one. Maybe not hard, just weird. Reagan did really well but the weather did not cooperate and I would say 75% of our games were cancelled or rescheduled. With Zach's work schedule he could really only be the assistant coach and I think that inconsistency was hard too. It never felt like things really got off and running because of so many weather set backs. Hopefully next year will be better.

I only took pictures at one game and my excuse goes by the name of Levi. This was the one where my Grandpa Meiner bought the kids' silence, I mean love, with ring pops at 9 am. They nuzzled themselves right up to him, this isn't Grandpa's first rodeo.

 Shepherd is directly behind Grandpa. He was trying to milk the leftover few drops of Reagan's "squeeze it" from his team snack. If this picture doesn't say "little brother" than I don't know what does.

Friday, July 17, 2015

What the youngest of three boys looks like.

Post grocery trip. Proud of the couscous (the smallest form of rice) nightmare he created.



When I talk about his shenanigans (what a fun sounding word for such frustrating activities) I assume people think incredulously, "well what are you doing while this is going on?" I've had two other boys, VERY ACTIVE ones at that, and I think I would have thought the same thing... until I had a child like Levi.

So what I need you (and plead with you) to understand is 1. he is sneaky/quiet/conniving to an impressive degree and 2. there comes a point in the day when I have to go to the bathroom, help other children put their clothes on, make life sustaining meals for the family, etc. !!! I can not trail him 24 hours a day (even though that feels like it's what I do.)

 So my decision, for my sanity and also posterity sake, is to take pictures of his antics. Heavily filtered of course, the soft glow softens the blow and makes them seem but a distant memory. HA. HA HA. ha ha ha.

Hand stuck in a baby wipe container. // His perch for watching garbage trucks, mailmen and dad mow. // Chair pushed to the counter, climbed on to the counter, emptied out a few of my spices. // again with the counter, wet a roll of paper towels and their holder in the sink.
 We deadbolt and lock all of the downstairs doors (and most of the upstairs) but he has worked around the system and pushes toys up to them and unlocks them all. Hashtag flight risk. // At Reagan's baseball games he chooses to be as far away from me has possible. With an added layer of height of course. // Generic cheez-it spill. Have I ever told you how we did a major cheez it experiment and determined the off brand from Aldi is the most pallatte pleasing. It was a blind taste test. We weighed saltiness, crunch and overall flavor. Come here for wisdom. // And again with the escaping.

Some simple math for you...
25% Naughty + 25% Ornery + 25% Cuddly + 25% Playful = 100% LEVI

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fourth of July

Zach had to work on the 4th of July but that didn't stop us from having a great day. We did the Towanda parade that morning and then went to Peoria that afternoon/evening. 

Towanda's parade (right off Route 66) has that perfect small town Americana feeling to it. It was a good size too; heavy on the tractors and light on the candy, making all parties involved happy. 

Fireworks on the Riverfront was such a neat experience and what a show it was (the people watching and fireworks I mean.) The boys rompers are from a friend of my moms, they still had the 50 year old tags on them and everything.

Levi's facepaint. 

It was one of those parenting situations where you question who this is for. We paid for it. Then he watched his brothers get theirs done. Good, great- going well. Then we sit down together on the seat, if I put him in my lap he'll probably sit better. Give him a sucker too, now he'll really sit. All my bases are covered. She picks up the air brush gun and he loses it. Back arches, head shaking no. I instruct the teenager with braces to just DO IT. I'll hold his head in place and you go go go! He screams the whole time but my head lock his strong and he emerges with basically an oversized American bindi. Why was I so invested in this face paint experience? Did I drink the 4th of July kool aid? Did Zach say Levi did it to protest the outfits I made them wear?


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

SCW - 3 years old

31 lbs 8 oz (52%)
37.75" (59%)

What an anticipated birthday this one was! He had asked multiple times a day, every day, for a month, when would his birthday be. Celebrating is something that comes natural to Shep! I am so glad Shepherd is in our family. He has so much joy in his little body, when he gets happy (which isn't hard) it practically bursts out of him. He definitely has his meltdowns but overall he mostly just LOVES LIFE.

Let's jump in with some quotes shall we:

At the carwash...
"Is that tickling you car?!"

"I pooped a family!"

Darlene asked him if he was going to put back a bug back in the mud that he picked up.
Well then what are you going to do with it?
"Love it." (pets it softly)

He hoards/carries around small objects constantly, the trinket/piece of junk usually rotates every few days. For a while he carried around a tiny, light blue bible that Zach was given when he was born. I was caught of guard driving in the car one day when he yelled from the back....
"I can't. Find. JESUS!!!!!!!!" (furiously thumbing through the tiny pages.)

"Why they call it juice, mom?"
Because they take the juice out of an orange and you drink it.
"How they get the juice out?"
They squeeze it all out.
(big eyes) "They POP the orange?!"

"I peed! I did it all by myself. I promise!"

"I JUST WOKE UP!" He sits at the top of the stairs every morning and every afternoon (after nap) and yells this until someone responds. He is our very best sleeper. It's rare if he gets up before 8am, he might wake up earlier than that but he loves to just lay in bed and take his sweet time adjusting to not being asleep. He will take a 2-3 hour nap most afternoons if I let him too.

What a lover he is. Constantly hugging and kissing, telling us he misses us, or is proud of you, or loves you. I literally can't get enough of him.

He's a great buddy. If you are working on a project (like Zach frequently is), Shepherd is very content to just sit with you and watch or hand you things you need. He never complains that he's bored and acts genuinely interested in what you are doing. I'm serious when I say, he's just a good little buddy to have work next to you.

The unfortunate thing about having an older brother is that I feel like he has skipped over some things. For instance Reagan at this age was super into Thomas the Train, Shep has almost passed over that entirely and moved onto things like Transformers and the Avengers.

Verbally he is off the charts. The kid talks and talks and talks. He recites stories and memories, has a vivid imagination and figures out (using context clues) what a new word means without much help from me. Physical coordination wise....ehhhhh....let's say we are still working on that. Accident prone would be accurate. It still surprises Zach and I sometimes the weird ways he figures out how to hurt himself. He has the scooter action figured out but pedaling a tricycle is still going to take some practice. We're good with small motor skills actually, he's got scissors down pat and holds writing utensils correctly. Side note; I remember when Reagan was in preschool they commented on us needing to work on scissor-use at home and I remember thinking "scissors?! I totally forgot that was a thing. Like a thing you need to teach someone to do!"

He is going to preschool in the fall! Two mornings a week for 2.5 hours. He'll go to Calvary United Methodist which is literally walking distance from our house and Reagan went there as well. I think he's going to love it. And I will too =)

Reflecting back on parenting Reagan at this age (and just in general, the first child verses second child thing) I am much more confident as a parent this time around. I don't feel embarrassed if my child acts a certain way and I'm much more quick to recognize what a gut feeling is (and subsequently act on that feeling.) I have pretty much resigned to the childhood scapegoat of everything being "just a phase." Biting, tics, insomnia, etc. It has helped to me to be much more relaxed and present and therefore find joy in each stage. These will be the "good old days." It hit me h a r d the other day that there will come a time in life when I will look at someone who is chasing after  little ones who kick at you and arch their back because they don't want to be redirected (from bodily harm I might add) and actually yearn to have those moments back. I am the farthest from having it all figured out, waking up to rock a teething toddler back to sleep sucks but reflecting on it makes it all seem sweet. So i'll reflect, to remind myself when it happens again tonight to have a better attitude about it.

I interviewed Shep to hear his thoughts and opinions at age 3. I made sure to detail his perfectly chubby fingers and toes. I needed to before I nibbled them right off. 

Celebrating his birthday...
I died to myself and got some Avengers themed things. I know that's dramatic but Zach gave me a literal pat on the back over it. I would do it 1,000 times over because it made Shep SOO happy. 

Zach's dad worked on this (once blue) truck for months. Shepherd is obsessed with Chris' red truck and so like the Grandpa he is, he painstakingly customized this one to look identical. It's one of those gifts where we're all like "yay be excited to open it but ohmygosh please don't touch it too hard because it's kept a hobby shop open during their slow season for all the things your grandpa has purchased for it." You know, one of those types of gifts.

 Well. This cake was not my best work. If Shepherd asks, that was the reddest frosting you've ever seen.

There is something sweet and a little nostalgic about pictures lit from birthday candles. Its one of my top favorite things in mom-life. Another is watching my kids play in the backyard. A third is when my boys' starting getting brown, sun-kissed skin in the summer.  

We ended the night by having some BP with the new bat he got. 

Reagan at three here and here.

Mother's Day

Kids are why I buy cheap sunglasses.

They are why we have two keys missing from our remote. They were removed BY TEETH in case you were wondering.

And when you come to our house and need to use the bathroom you can tear your toilet paper off of the already existing PILE of toilet paper on our floor.

Zach worked this Mother's Day but it was still a great day. Chris and Kristi had everyone (including my mom) over for a cookout and we just had a generally good time. Reagan made me this oven mitt and "recipe" for a wonderful mom.

9 Gallons of Sweetness
100 Gallons of Braveness
90 cups of Helpful (or maybe that one wasn't a mistake)
A pinch of happy
90000 packages of power (again maybe he was intentional with the poooop)

"Mix in nice and helpful than fold happy and power and stir braveness and busy and add in sweetness and enjoy the best mom in the world."

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


He would deny it but I really believe one of Zach's love languages is "gift giving". But I guess it could also be "physical touch" or definitely "words of affirmation." (If you never read 'The Five Love Languages' for your pre-marital counseling than you sorely missed out.)

He's basically everything but "acts of service" which is definitely mine, or at least how I show it. The point I'm working my way to is that he gets a lot of excitement out of surprising me (and the kids) and he did a mighty fine job this last time.

Every 18 shifts for firefighting you get a "kelley day" which means a paid day off on a normal shift day. Well if you normally work 1 day and then have 2 days off, essentially with a kelley day you have 5 days off in a row. Now that I've lived through our first one I can say (EMPHATICALLY) they are magical and everything that is amazing.

Zach took Reagan to school a couple of weeks ago and came back home to tell me to pack my bags, his parents would be over in about 15 minutes to watch the boys and we were going to be headed on a little "parents-only" getaway. I had a million questions. One being what to pack in which he kept saying just something comfortable like tights. Using my mom-to-toddler deciphering brain I figured out he meant leggings/workout pants. I also had a few things I needed to do the rest of that week and to my (further) surprise he had already taken care of them! The longest I had been away from Shepherd was when I gave birth to Levi and I think I've only been away from Levi one night, I wasn't nervous to leave the boys but it definitely was a new experience.

We drove down to southern Illinois where his parents have a cabin but took a detour to Springfield to go through Frank Lloyd Wright's Dana Thomas house (which was closed despite what their website said- bummer) and the Lincoln Presidential Library. Zach held his tongue as I thoroughly read each and every plaque in the museum, which I did because I knew we would be taking the kids back at some point and they would have no patience with such learning. I can't recommend the Lincoln museum enough, I will say it was much more somber than we expected (which makes sense since his life had so much tragedy in it) and we were left with a sort of melancholy feeling. I still loved it and can't wait to take Reagan.

Over the course of the next few days we went on a 3 hour zip lining excursion (suspended bridges and hiking trails included) and golfed at Kokopeli. All of this outdoors-y activity to counteract the mucho mucho eating we did.

What is a post without pictures? Here they be.

Our afternoon of education with just us and 200 eighth grade students.

 The next morning we joined our group of 2 guides and 6 strangers to fly through the tops of trees in what felt like diapers. Beforehand my biggest fear was safety but the guides are so thorough and the harnesses have multiple safeties that I quickly lost most of my hesitations. The views were gorgeous, I'm so glad we did it.

 In reference to my earlier fears, Zach said he felt the greatest hazard was where they clipped his water bottle to his harness... eek.

 man we are HIGH-larious.

The very last zip they put a radar gun on you and you can se how fast you are going. I went 40 and Zach went 43 mph.

HUGE HUGE HUGE thank you to Grandma Darlene who stayed at our house, got Reagan to and from school and watched the boys most of the time. She is awesome in so many ways and this is just a small example of all she does and is.