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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Olive My Love

This summer we had the absolute pleasure of having cousin Olive at our house after her mommy gave birth to beautiful Rosemary and was recovering from giving birth.  Olive loves her cousins and they are crazy about her.  It's a love-love relationship.  

Nathan and Olive always had a strong bond. This year, Abigail and Olive really blossomed into their relationship.  Since Abigail was blessed enough to have some older girls take care of her over the summer (thanks you, Emilia, Molly, Hannah and Abigail!), she learned how to take care of little ones.  She immediately put into practice what she had learned.  She'd welcome Olive, take her by the hand and showed her just about everything Olive wanted to see.  Olive never tired of it and quite liked this personalized attention she was getting.  

Olive is in the stage where she likes to imitate the older ones.  Here Nathan is attempting to do a "candle" but didn't quite get his legs up.  Olive nevertheless tried it; backwards.  The copy we got the biggest kick out of, was when Olive tried to copy the "caterpillar".  Nathan saw it at church during VBC and has been practicing it ever since.  His is getting better but it still looks strange.  Olive copied him by laying on the floor flat and then throwing one leg after the other in the air.  It was really cute.

On this particular day, the kids wanted to make muffin tin lunches for a special treat for Olive.  We had an indoor picnic on a blanket with pillows lovingly arranged by "Nathy" (how Olive says "Nathan") and Abby.  The kids had toothpicks for utensils which strangely enough, none of them used as a weapon.  

Ah, cousin love.  Nathan is always happy around Olive.  He loves to show her things and just love her.  They have a lot in common. They are both very physical, both bad sleepers as little ones, both full of energy and don't sit still much, love the outdoors.

Tangent!  Seeing the Playdoh: I made homemade Playdoh today and used some flour that had gone rancid.  Apparently Abigail did NOT like the smell.  She played with it and when I served her lunch today, she told me that she had to eat in the other room so "the smell doesn't go in my nose."  Seriously, it did not smell bad.    Tangent over.

Even Isabelly loves her Olive.  She follows her with big smiles and wants to kiss her.  When busy Olive stops and gives her a squeeze hug and a kiss, Isabelle just beams.  That is until Olive's love squeeze turns into anaconda squeeze.  Then Isabelle screams, Olive lets go, and then Isabelle admires Olive again and patiently awaits her next hug and kiss.

It is funny to me how the kids just know that they are family.  They are around other kids just as much but they know the difference.  For example, they've known Carter and Evan longer than Olive and seen them more but yet they distinctively treat Olive different. We are very blessed to have our family so close to us.  

I used to love it when my cousins came to Grandma Lischen's house.  Especially my cousin Marco, who was closest in age to me, was very dear to me when we were children.  Hopefully all these little ones will have the same bond.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Summer Af-Fair

In August we really started to really check things off our summer list.  It seemed the first month of summer just was gone before we even knew it.  The second we did a few things but the same thing happened, time just flew by too quickly.  With a slight fear that the kids wouldn't have any fun during the summer (is that possible?), we decided to do something at least every weekend day in August, if not even during the week as well.  We went to various parades, free community events and two fairs.  The first one was the big one and that is where we went all out, rides and all.  This one was a smaller one and we decided not to do rides and to concentrate on the other parts of the fair.  It was a blast (if you don't believe me, see picture below).

Isabelle loves animals and freaked out, really freaked out, every time she saw one.  Here we are in the goat exhibit.  Isabelle got super excited, danced, squealed.  When she had calmed down, we guided her to the next goat and she did the same exact thing.  It was hilarious.  She entertained the rest of us with that.  She did it along the hole row of goats.  Apparently she loves goats.     

The girls talking to a little 4H girl about goats.  She had baby goats in her cage, which the girls really liked.  And Abby got a pink firefighter helmet.  The fire department had a hose that the kids tried to knock over wooden flames with.  They liked that very much and then they got a red or a pink firefighter helmet.  

Isabelle is pushing her fists into her chest and squealing.  

Daddy used to do this with Abigail.  The babies ride on his shoulder and he asks them: "Where is ____?"  After a while they lean over on the side and he says: "There you are!"  They definitely like this one.

The kids were blessed with a session on bats.  We learned quite a bit about bats from two forest ranger ladies.  Afterwards the kids were invited to make their own bat masks.  The dragonfly on Nathan's was already on there, so don't fault the boy for a girly motive.  :-)  

After the session I asked Nathan what was the coolest thing he had learned about bats.  He said: "That they scoop up insects with their nets." (By nets he means the skin between their legs.)  I asked Abigail what her favorite thing about bats was.  She didn't have to think about it: "That they are part of Batman!"

It's Smokey!  

This fair too had a great quilt exhibit and a fantastic Lego exhibit, and a great art exhibit as well.  There was a cupcake decorating demonstration where the kids got to decorate, well, their cupcakes and eat them too!  One of the highlights for them.  :-)  The weather was great for this fair as well and we saw some really neat things.  Most of all, we had a great time as a family.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Fair

My family's favorite part of summer (other than camping, of course) is with certainty our county fair.  What is not to like?  Wild rides, pretty teacup rides, a gazillion animals, fair food, shopping enticements, lots of creative ideas, exhibits of all kinds (did you know that fairs now give out ribbons for Lego creations?), play parks, pony rides, live bands, wild west shows, people on stilts, clowns, ice cream, pie, dogs jumping into water, lots of smiles, happy and overstimulated children.  And with any luck - sunshine!
Even though I used to frown at spending all that many on all-day wristbands for rides, I have become an utter convert.   It must have been all those happy faces that accompanied us.

I knew the day would come someday....  Nathan is tall enough to go on bigger rides and loves to dare me to go onto scary ones.  There are some that dad only will go.  Thank goodness for dad!  This one was actually pretty mellow.  Until you went around for the 15th time and got really nauseated from all that centrifugal spinning.  But Dave paid his dues as well.  He went into a ride where you drive in a circle and at the same time spin around the cabin you sit in.  They went pretty wild.  I'm not supposed to tell but he got a pretty sour stomach on that one.  

Nathan and Abigail were able to go on certain rides by themselves for the first time.  Abigail just adores her big brother.  She loved it.  I like this picture of them both having so much fun together.  

This was a rite of passage.  Nathan (middle seat) went on this one by himself.  At first he didn't want to go again but then he thought that if he can make me go, he'll do it.  After some convincing, I went.  He hugged me the whole way up while we were waiting in line.  It's a pretty cool ride though.  We got a good view of the fair and a fun way to go down.

Motorcycle, motorcycle, motorcycle!  (An insider joke for my kids and David.)

Isabelle did really well during the ride part of the fair.  She can't go on rides yet but she was perfectly content taking it all in.

My favorite shoes of hers.  

Oh, manly man in a teacup.  Love that man!

Sister love!  That makes my heart sing.  Pure sweetness.

Tired baby.

Yeah!  I got a motorcycle.  For some reason that really excited him this year.  When he was little, we would put him on these and he would have absolutely no expression at all.  We didn't really know if he liked it or not.

Abby thoroughly enjoyed this ride where you sit in a basket and just go around.  There were only girls on this ride.  :-)  She kept high-fiving me while she passed and then just pretended to fly with her arms.

Daddy and Abby.  She's really gotten into making faces for the camera.

Nathan got stuck halfway down the slide.  Abby is at the top.  Did you see her?

Her favorite on the carousel.  She actually noticed that their kitty seat was gone.  This was second choice.   

This is the ride that made Dave so sick.  It was funny because Nathan kept asking Dave to go here afterward and Dave tried to distract him from going there.

And more love and hugs.  So sweet.

We did a lot more at the fair but apparently did not take any more pictures.  I always make everyone look at the quilt exhibit.  They all bear with me very politely.  There was a great Lego exhibit and the kids even enjoyed the art and flower exhibits (well, Abby for the flowers, not really Nathan).  We of course enjoyed fair food and Grandma graciously donated money for a treat.  Abby went with her beloved cotton candy while Nathan chose ice cream.  No brainers.  We rested in a shady, grassy area and at our snacks while Isabelle explored a petting zoo.  She may have gotten over-excited.  Just a little.  Nathan and Abigail also got to use some bouncy houses.  It was a loooooonnnnnnggggg day (we stayed until it got dark) and our kids loved every minute of it.  They were so happy.   It might have been all the sugar they consumed.  :-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Parades, Parades and more Parades

We love parades.  Oh yes we do.  :-)  They are so very American.  And we love America.  Naturally we love parades.  This year we really loved them.  We went to four of them.  Funny thing is that the kids never once tired of them.  They were always excited.  And we had good weather for all of them.
It was interesting to compare parades from different areas.  The first one we went to is trying to not hand out candy anymore because the roads get too dirty.  Now that seemed un-American to us personally. :-)  All had veterans walking in them as well as other service men and woman.  It is always a nice way to thank all of those wonderful people who give so much of themselves and who sacrifice so much.  
Parades are definitely one of our favorite parts of summer. 

But first things first:  Abby got a new hairdo.  She was not a very happy camper when I brushed her hair every morning.  Her curls would knot up in the back.  No matter how often we combed or what products we used.  She begged me to let her cut it.  Remembering how much happier I was when my mother cut my hair short, I reluctantly gave in.  It turned out really cute and everyone is giving her compliments, even random strangers.  It is funny how many people want to just touch her hair.  It doesn't even phase her at all when someone runs their fingers through her hair.  The other day a female stranger did so at a birthday party and Abigail didn't even turn around to see who it was.  It is just that natural to her that someone needs to touch her hair.

The back is my favorite part of her cut.  

The kids' favorite part of parades?  The candy, of course.  Three of the parades we went to this year really went all out.  Only good candy and so much of it.  We probably have enough to hand out on Halloween.  :-)

I like that picture of Nathan.  For one he looks handsome.  Really wanted to say "cute" but he'd probably be very upset with me.  Second, he is appreciating something I baked.  While he doesn't much like my regular cooking, he sure appreciates my baking.  

Nathan was really excited about them handing out freezer pops.  

Abigail is our eager waver.  She will wave to everyone, all throughout the parade.  Both of our kids have also been taught to stand up and take their hats off when the flag passes.  

As much as people are drawn to Abigail's hair, they like to give her presents as well.  I'm not joking.  One of the parade people gave Abigail this Garfield.  This is her second stuffed animal from a parade.  Stuffed animals are Abigail's friends.  She has tons.  And loves them all.  Of course, Bear (bet you can't guess what animal he is???) and Lamby are still are her favorites.   

Look at all that candy!  

David dared Nathan to eat a sour candy.  His face was so funny.  He is making a sour face and giggling at the same time.  So cute.  Sorry, I meant handsome.

Anyways, hope you got to enjoy some parades of your own this summer.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Abigaily, Abigaily, We love you....

This song, sung to the tune of "Brother Jacob", aka "Frere Jaques" or "Bruder Jakob", has overtaken our household.  David once sang it for Abby during a road trip, as in "Abigail, Abigail/ We love you/ We love you/ You are so pretty/  You are so pretty/ Yes, you are/  Yes, you are."  If you know Abigail, a declaration of love, wrapped up in a song and sung by her dad, that is just a magical combination she can only fiercely love.  Which she did.  She made her dad sing it over and over.  Then Nathan wanted it sung to him (of course the "pretty" was substituted with "handsome").  Then the kids wanted dad to sing it to Isabelle.  It became and instant hit.
Over the months, our family has sung this song over and over to each other.  We've exchanged the "You are so  pretty" with various phrases such as "You are such a good girl" or "You are so precious", funny phrases or comments on the particular day.  It's become a classic.
Abigail has even used this song to calm down her little baby cousin Rosemary recently.  Rosemary was discontent and after Abigail sang to her for a while, she stopped and was happy again.  According to their mom Megan, cousin Olive even sings it to Rosemary now. It's more of a "Ro, Ro, Ro...".
Even our littlest one, Isabelle sings it all day now.  Of course her version is like a stuck record: "Mama, mama/ Mama, mama...."   I love it!
Be warned though.  This song, once sung, is highly contagious and may result in a new family tradition.

Two Quick Things

Best investment ever!  This year, David went out and bought a bigger-sized pool for the kids.  Both kids got a lot more comfortable with water and with the help of goggles and nose plugs, both got comfortable being under water.  
Nathan just loves to swim from side to side and swim or dive underwater.  He is always moving in the water, always finding new ways to make that water splash.  Nathan was fully convinced that his swimming abilities equaled that of the Olympic athletes he had seen  on TV.  Ha!  To have the confidence of a six-year-old! 
Abigail loved all of the swimming aids, particularly a blow-up monkey swim ring that Rusty and Megan had bought Nathan for his birthday.  Unfortunately, as all blow-up pool toys have a tendency to do, the monkey had an early demise.  She was comforted by a blow-up spaceship, which also had an early demise.  Guess what is still around?  The Dollar Store blow-up ring.  Probably because no one ever played with it before....  Abby also constantly yells at Nathan whenever any water comes close to her personal space.  She is convinced that she can stay dry in a pool.  

This was such a great idea by my husband.  He decided that a family night under the starts on the trampoline was just what we needed.  The kids loved it!  David always thinks of these wonderful ways to make memories.  They got their fluffy pillows out, got dressed warm, took their warm blankets and sleeping bags with them and watched the stars.  Much to David's surprise, they fell asleep really quick.  David's back was quite sore from sleeping on the trampoline and the condensation made the blankets pretty wet.  But who cares when you get to sleep on your trampoline!

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Two of my children have obsessive personalities.  Nathan can get very obsessed over things (in a good way).  He absorbs EVERYTHING about the topic at hand.  Then, after there is no more to learn, he moves on.   He may return to the topic on occasion as it is familiar and beloved territory.  Some of these examples include volcanos, snakes, Star Wars (although he's never seen the movies, he probably knows more about it then you), and his latest obsession, Lego Ninjago.  This was probably born out of an earlier obsession with ninjas and samurai for a school project.   
It seems my littlest one, who shares a lot of character traits with her brother, learns in the same kind of manner.  Currently there are many obsessions she has.  One of them unfortunately is my plastic container drawer...  Here are some of the things that keep her little brain busy:


Isabelle loves babies and baby dolls.  Everything is a mama, a baby and sometimes a dada.  Mostly mama and baby though.  That's because dad is at work.  :-)  She understand very many things about babies.  If you tell her the baby is hungry, she'll get her little doll bottle and feeds the baby.  She puts it in the little cradle, rocks it and sings for the baby (VERY cute).  She gives kisses and hugs frequently.  I'd say that is her favorite, to give hugs and kisses. She rocks the baby (see picture above).  

Everyone in our family is expected to kiss the baby when Isabelle thinks it is needed.  Thankfully everyone in our household obeys the little girl.  

Her cuteness gets rewarded with a cheek rub by Nathan (this is his official sign of affection).


This is one of the rare pictures without shoes.  She has me put shoes on her at least 7 times a day.  She even puts her shoes on, then Abby's over them, then mine on top of that.  She has learned to walk around in David's heavy and big hiking shoes.  I have no idea how she keeps them on her feet, but she does.  She has a love/hate relationship with her crocs.  She wants them on but then the fact that she cannot put them on herself frustrates her to no end.
And yes, I needed an excuse to post the top picture because I love it.  And by the way, I'm obsessed with pictures.  Just so you know.

The Telephone

See that happy smile?  Yes, she loves talking to Oma (in these pictures) and grandma.  She instantly smiles when I put the speakerphone on and someone starts to talk to her.  She has also learned the phrase: "Isabelle, ____ is on the phone for you." and she comes running.

Listening to Oma talk.  This is how she holds the phone. The earpiece is actually on her shoulder.  I put it in her hand the right way but she will twist her wrist.  Ha!  That rhymes.  If one tries to correct her holding the phone, one is met with a rather displeasing countenance.

Abigail of course also wanted to talk to Oma.  When I gave her the phone for her turn, Isabelle wailed.  She tried multiple times to grab the phone from Abby.   Unfortunately for Isabelle, Abigail is a long talker.  Nevertheless, Isabelle showed her discontent by wailing the whole time Abigail was talking.

After I gave her the phone back.

And when Oma had to hang up.  Sorry baby.
And no, she will not have a cell phone any time soon.  Except for her pink toy phone which will entertain her all day. 


Oh, let's not forget grapes.  She will do her own little happy dance for those.  Bending over, arms stretching horizontally backwards and running forward.  Very entertaining.  She will also sing very sweetly.  Mostly it is the "Mama, mama" song (to the tune of "Brother Jacob" aka "Frere Jaques").