Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Finally Four

The day Miriam had been waiting for finally arrived. Her very happy birthday! She was the eldest again. Thank heavens. It was hard being "the same age as Vivi" for all those days. Which compels us to share this story: On her birthday, Miriam was in the bathroom and started yelling, "MOOOOOMMMMY!" 

Thinking there must be some horrible bathroom EMERGENCY, Mommy rushed in. "What's wrong!?!?" 

"Am I the oldest girl in the family?"

"Yes." Relief. "Anything else?"

"So I AM the oldest."


 For her birthday, Miriam wanted chocolate covered strawberries! Yum.
While her younger sisters took a nap, she and Mommy worked hard dipping and decorating her treats.
They were careful not to waste any extra chocolate.
Four strawberries and four purple candles for a four year old.
So all of that was on Monday. Last night, Miriam and Daddy went out on their date! This year she asked for Pizza Hut. Which was actually a DEAL - kids get a free drink (strawberry lemonade was her pick), all pizzas are $10, and she got a free dessert pizza for her birthday. She and Daddy split a half Hawaiian half Buffalo Chicken...a bit of the buffalo got onto her half of the pizza. Spicy birthday surprise!
It was the perfect birthday for our grown up, very loved Miriam. Four Big Things about our four year old:
1. She loves to be a helper. From setting the table to taking care of Felicity in ANY way she can to making her bed, she absolutely loves to assist her Mommy and Daddy.
2. She can do buttons and zippers - so proud of her skills! She is very independent and loves to be able to get herself ready to leave the house.
3. She LOVES the color purple. Mommy made her a purple flannel blanket for her birthday to keep her warm during the cold winter drives in the van.
4. She has a map brain. She knows where we are, how far to the next place, if we are somewhere she's never been before, her right from her left. It is amazing. Just like everything else about her.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Calm

Tomorrow Miriam turns four. And Aunt Sue gets to town. Then Tuesday is Mema's birthday. Wednesday we get to see Aunt Bridget. Thursday the holiday season officially begins. Friday? Happy shopping, to many of you. So today, busy as it feels, is actually the calm before the storm. 
Bring on the rain.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Come On Ride the Train

Last weekend we visited Tim's alma mater. Purdue! We have several family members there now - Tim's cousin and nephew and nephew's girlfriend; Sarah's sister and sister's boyfriend. It's a party. So just a few pictures to show you the highs and lows of the trip.
High: Felicity loved swinging at the park near Aunt Bridget's apartment
High: Running through MILES of underground hallways on campus
Low: Aunt Bridget almost "fell" in the trash

High: Purdue tour guides and the girls with founder, John Purdue
Low: Sarah imitates John Purdue
High and Low: Felicity pulls herself up on the hotel furniture but NOTHING is safe from her grasp
High: Older girls are entertained for hours with markers and pictures of the princesses
So that's our weekend in a flash. Oh yes, and we ate at Bruno's. Awesome pizza and some super yummy balls of fried pizza dough called Bruno Bites. Probably going to need to eat those again. Could write a whole blog post just about that place, but we'll spare you. And several other good meals. At least they know how to feed you in West Lafayette. Also, we saw Tim's nephew Andrew. We hadn't realized how long it had been - Andrew met Felicity for the first time! The hotel had an indoor pool so that was a treat. Alright, no more odd details. Bottom line: Daddy was happily in his second homeland. We'll take him back there. It's good for his soul.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Rock and Roll Out People

The secondary choice for a title today was "We Live in a Parrot Aviary". You see, when we settled into our new life with a tiny baby Miriam, and even a tiny baby Vivian, we had no idea that we were taking care of parrots. Mimics who absorb every syllable of every word we mumble and repeat it back to us at the most opportune moments. Most of the time it is adorable.
Blueberries fresh off the bush
The parrot-child really came into focus when Mommy loaded the girls into the car for some errands one morning when Miriam was about 2 years old. As they began the car ride, Miriam suddenly hollered, "Rock and roll out, people!" with a giggle. WHAT!?!? It sounded absolutely ridiculous and hilarious coming out of that little mouth. Mommy realized she said those words pretty much every time she stuffed the girls into the CR-V and pulled out of the driveway.
Anyone for ladder golf?
The moment we discovered a parrot was among us, our conversations changed. They were listening...but what were we saying? And what did we want them to say?
Miriam LOOOVES the fair!
There is a lot more spelling. This was particularly challenging for Tim. He's a perfectly capable "speller." Sarah isn't. So Tim is left trying to decipher exactly which word Sarah is attempting to spell. Miriam also learned how to spell P-A-R-K rather quickly. Felicity was probably born knowing those letters. No code talk over these girls heads can stop them from sniffing out their parents' plans for a trip to the park.
Vivian the Cheeser
And there is a bit of Spanish. Also a challenge for Tim for all the wrong reasons. Sarah took three years of Latin in high school and was not so hot with Spanish come college Spanish 102. Again, he's left trying to understand which Spanish words Sarah is trying to come up with and pronounce. Besides Vivian's love for Dora is going to expand her Spanish vocabulary beyond Mommy's any minute.
Baby Felicity just hours old.
It's a real communication hailstorm sometimes.
Sisterly love.
And that's ok. It's worth it. We don't want our little girls running around repeating four letter words (everyone will know where they learned those...horrible parents). And we don't want to ruin their innocence prematurely. You only get to be young and innocent and sweet once. ONE TIME. You cannot have it back. It's a priority in our house to preserve that right now. Soon enough they will know all about the kind of pain that is in the words we're spelling. And they'll know which words are mean and cause hurt. Today, however, is not that day. Today we're holding them in our teeny, tiny bubble, in our arms that are all too short. We're letting them have a childhood the only way we know how.

Friday, November 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes - Take 3

We're linking up with Conversion Diary today to bring you the long and short of what's been all around.

1. We got a membership to Costco. Have you seen Veggietales: Madame Blueberry? We have-more than a few times. Mommy walked in and immediately began singing, "Stuuuuuuffffff Maaarrrrt." And then we all (sacrilegious as it sounds) fell in love with the place. There were toys! And tubs of marinated olives! And three pound containers of strawberries (we ate them all already)! And books! And huge hunks of cheese! And awesome prices on the name brand cereal! And tires! And cheap gas! And unfortunately it was Sunday so we didn't get to spend much time considering the beer selection! And the new house is going to have a biiiiiig ol pantry!
And if you're a member and haven't already tried these...well, just do it.

2.  We're trying to teach Felicity to cuddle because all she does is go. Think it'll work? Old dog. New tricks. Could we just have ONE cuddler???

3. Last week was Saint Week. We did a different saint every day: St. Nicholas, the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. Therese the Little Flower, and St. Francis of Assisi. Great week with lots of fun little crafts and talk about faith. Good stuff. Anyhow, this St. Francis rebuilding the church craft was a hit because it involved lots of glue and cutting. 

4. This week is Vegetable Week. So we played with M&M's. Because that makes perfect sense.

5. First snow of the season!!! The girls were dressed, bundled, and out in it before 9 AM. All their snow toys...ok, they just have one, the sled...are still in the attic. So they played with beach toys instead. Wild things.

6.  Miriam and Vivian's birthday party was last week. They asked for popsicle cupcakes. Daddy helped out this year and made them beauteous. He actually had a genius idea. The original included toothpicks which would be super yucky to accidentally chew. So instead he suggested breaking up pieces of spaghetti. Brilliant!
Vivian was so excited about her party that she just couldn't sleep during naptime. Which, needless to say, led to this:
Passed out. Daddy tried to wake her gently to blow out her candles. Not well received. But Miriam was thrilled with the WHOLE thing!
Presents made it better. But they were moving so fast during that portion of the night that there isn't a single decent picture to share.

7. AND's that time of year again. We have two three year olds in the house who are NOT twins. It just blows the minds of the collective public when someone asks how old they are. "Three." "Oh! Twins!" "No, they're not twins. Just eleven months apart." "WHAT?!?! Oh my goodness. That's crazy." Maybe. But you should see them playing together at this exact moment. Warms a heart.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Very Merry UnFather's Day...

Remember in Alice in Wonderland...the Unbirthday? With the Mad Hatter? And the "tired" mouse? And the hyper rabbit? Huh. Some days our house is remarkably like that tea party...but we're getting off point. And we actually have a point today.
Today is not Father's Day (obviously). But sometimes we like to sing the praises of Daddy just because. Just because dad's get an ugly image in the news and on TV -- we get a parenting magazine; dad's are just barely existent even in that publication. Just because he's the busiest guy we know. Just because he's the most fun, most compassionate, most patient Dad ever (or at least in this house.) Just because he doesn't mind "wasting time" with his little girls playing restaurant or building towers or reading stories or playing Candyland or etc. etc. etc. Just because he'll eat 3/4 of his meals out of a crockpot and never complains. Just because he knows when a little girl is crying and moving slower than we'd like, sometimes it really means she needs a hug and he gives her one instead of snapping at her to move it. Just because he'll hold a frantic baby for hours, if that's what it takes to keep Mommy from losing her mind. We Speer Females are all his number one fans. We're still coming up with up with a cool name. Like the Beliebers. Only cooler (which shouldn't be tooooo hard).

Back to Daddy...last week he took Vivian out on her birthday date. When the girls turn three, they get to start going out on dates with their Daddy each year for their birthdays. Vivian was so very, very excited that her day had finally come. Miriam is literally counting down the days until her birthday and subsequent Daddy Date. She's picked out Pizza Hut and is pondering what she will wear. It's a big deal. This tradition was suggested to us by a priest friend who sees a lot of pain that can be attributed to, what he calls, father wounds. It's a dad's job to show his children, particularly their daughters, that they are worthwhile and worthy of love, that they are lovely, that they are a daughter of a King and all the dignity that entails. Tall order for a dad of three little ladies. Pray that he continues to be up to the task.

We've heard that earthly fathers are supposed to mirror the love of the heavenly Father. And that's what Daddy does in our house. He's just. If there's a rule and you broke it, there's a discipline for that. Actions have consequences. As parents, it's our job to (hopefully lovingly) teach that lesson. Over and over and over until it feels like all the moments of the day congeal into one blob of continually, slowly cultivating self-control and all those other hard-won virtues. Our own parental voices begin to sound like the "Wanana. Waaaa. Waaa. Waa-wanna." of Charlie Brown's teacher. As a good Daddy, he doesn't let all those moments discourage him or make him short-sighted.

But equally important, he's merciful. Ain't nobody gettin ta heaven without the mercy. And, whatever his faults, Tim lives that. "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." No one we know says "I'm sorry" faster or offers forgiveness as quickly as Tim. "Blessed are the peacemakers," Jesus said. "For they shall be called children of God." Tim is a peacemaker; he's a son of God. And we, maybe proud Mommy most of all, are grateful for his example of mercy. Perhaps someday soon it'll rub off on the rest of us.

So that's our essay, our ode, our hymn of thanksgiving during the month of Thanksgiving to Daddy and all the daddies like him who give parenting, and life really, their every last ounce of energy. We love you.

Friday, November 8, 2013

7 Months

This little Felicity. Good news, she got those two horrible bottom teeth through. Became our happy little girl again! Has started getting really attached to Mommy, but still is excited to see Daddy every night when he comes home. Some evenings she can barely pay attention to her baby food because she's so busy trying to get his attention during supper. All was going very (ok...mostly) nicely. Her naps are still hit and miss, but you win some you lose some. And then she went crazy. She sits.
She crawls.
She crawls into the furniture.
  She pulls herself up a bit.
And then last week Tim went in to get her after a nap and found this just standing there staring at him and laughing. So funny for you, young lady. Not funny for your parents who can barely keep track of two mobile children. THREE mini-people are moving in this house now. Nothing is sacred. We're calling her Baby-zilla. It's probably going to stick.
It's all fun and games until someone goes and tries to walk.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

ViviMouse: A Birthday

Vivian turned three this weekend! Three! Remember her like this?
Purple? We do. Kinda a scary first minute of life there. Cord wrapped around her neck and not wanting to come out. Then there she was. Nurses rubbing her and pinching her until she wailed. And all was right with the 8 lb 15 oz-er.
But this weekend, all was not exactly right. Somewhere along the way, Viv picked up Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. [Happy Birthday! Love, Whatever You Put Your Mouth On At The Park!] It honestly wasn't all that horrible. LOTS of spots that didn't itch too badly but no sores in her mouth. Could have been worse.
Real mail - a card to color from Aunt Sue!
She still had a great birthday weekend...we just kept our Baby Leopard home and washed our hands every ten minutes to avoid spreading it. Strategy is working pretty well so far.
To start the day, she had breakfast cupcakes!
Later, we ordered pizza and she got to pick the toppings! When we took a walk around the block, Miriam generously offered to let her pick the direction (this is quite an honor, even if it doesn't sound like it). Of course, opening presents and blowing out candles!
What to say about Vivian now that she's three? Just a few things:
  • Never leaves her hair barrettes or ties in.
  • Loves to sit and read to herself.
  • People often say, "Wow! She's FEARLESS isn't she!?!?" Yes, she is.
  • Runs everywhere!
  • Recently took an interest in Felicity and now loves to help take care of her. Hates to hear her cry.
  • Favorite foods are mac n cheese with hotdogs, mango, and 'Tella (Nutella) toast.
  • Dresses herself and is getting better at putting clothes on the right direction.
  • Dora is her favorite show everything.
  • Loves to play with water.
  • Is busy, busy, busy always.
  • Seems to be getting over the biting!!!!
We love you, Mouse. Three's going to be a great year for you.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monster Mash

Last week was MONSTER WEEK! A super fun, silly week with pretty much no learning "objectives". Let's be real, real clear. There are RARELY any kind of  "objectives" to what we do around here on a weekly basis. But some natural learning happens along the way when we talk about spiders, for example. They have eight legs, eight eyes, spin webs, etc. Nothing to really learn about monsters, even in passing. So we'll just share with you a few little projects we enjoyed from Pinterest. (Because Pinterest is the same thing as a preschool teaching curriculum, right?)
Project Uno. Make a monster. Mommy just glued down a bunch of googly eyes and let the ladies go wild with the glue, glittery objects, feathers, and crayons.
Both girls thought this was amazing. Vivi even shared her own little monster face.
We made pages and pages and pages of monsters. Mommy even made some! Then we named them. A full hour of monster madness.
 Meet Pinky and Pineapple Monster.
Felicity Feather-hair Monster supervised.
We also mixed up some Monster Slime later in the week. Both girls were not interested in even touching it to begin with. Little too icky. And calling it Monster Slime wasn't much of a selling point. Miriam actually dove in first and was delighted to report, and I quote, "It's not scary, Viv!"
Viv joined the fun. As expected, she loooooved the stuff.
"It feels rainy!" Viv squealed-such a cute little description.
Though it made Mommy worry about Miriam's diet when she said, "It feels like prunes!"
Time to buy some fresh dried fruit for the snack drawer, apparently.