Pictures

progression

First day

I view the point of parenting to be getting your kids ready to not need you. Yes, have fun with them, and cherish the time you have with them. Just remember, at some point, they will leave and go out into the world. They need to go out into the world.

So, Brooklynn, go out into the world. Welcome to kindergarten.

We've been taking Brooklynn to daycare since she was a few months old, so it isn't as if we've never had her out of the house without us before. In fact, she will still spend part of her day at a daycare to allow all of us to avoid multiple drop-offs, pick-ups, and varied schedules. And she's fine with it.

Last night, as we reviewed her lunch list and picked out her first day outfit, she took some time to explain to Maddi that she would be going to school during the day but she'll come back in the afternoon so Mom can pick them both up. She explained it with a "Of course this will be fine" tone that showed she was the big sister, more than capable of taking care of herself.

With Brooklynn in daycare, she has been getting to be one of the big kids for a while now, some I'm used to seeing her as a rather mature and capable person. This morning, to help her get into the routine, we took her to daycare and let the shuttle take her to school. I told her that I would see her at school just to make sure she got to her classroom on the first day. At daycare, she was fine - I'll see you there if you want to come. If anything, Maddi was more worked up over the notion that Brooklynn would be leaving without her.

I got to the elementary school ten minutes before the bell rang to line up. It's been a while since I've been to K-5 age setting, and longer still since I was there on the first day. Since I didn't know exactly where Brooklynn would be dropped off, we hadn't set a firm meeting point to give her a "Wait for me here" direction. As I surveyed the mass of kids, parents, and supervisors on the playground, I regretted that.

I didn't think Brooklynn would have abandoned her belongings to play, but I swung by the slides and swings to check. I didn't see her. If nothing else, I knew I could wait by the door and at least wave to her as she went in since I told her I would be there. I was walking back to the school through the people when and opening in the crowd appeared and I spotted her.

She was standing still, clutching her backpack to her chest, looking at all the people swirling around her. Instead of the mature and worldly person we see at home, she seemed very small, timid, and afraid. She saw me as well, came over, and latched on to my leg. I crouch down to be at her level and everything came spilling out. They shuttle dropped her off and there weren't many other kids riding with her today and she didn't know where to go and she couldn't find her teacher and she didn't know where I was but she knew I should be somewhere and she just didn't know.

And so I helped her. With the assistance of a playground monitor, we found the tag where her class will line up. And we looked at the other class tags, and saw how others ones had numbers for the grade levels and hers had a K for kindergarten, and the letter of her teachers name. We put her backpack in the line and went to play for a minute. Brand new playground equipment, yes it's ok to go on it, and yes, I will be here when you're done.

The whistle blew for everyone to line up, so we went back, found her backpack, and got in line. We talked about where the shuttle from daycare dropped her off, and where it would pick her up at the end of the day. We talked about the fact tomorrow morning, she would need to do this herself and that I can't come every day with her. She said that she could handle it, and, since her teacher was starting the headcount of the kids in line, I gave her one last hug, got a tighter squeeze back, and I stepped away.

They waited for a minute while a few other classes went in first. Brooklynn motioned for me to come over to her, but I just told her she would be fine, right? She nodded, and it was her turn to file in. One last wave and she was gone. She didn't even need to look back.

I walked back to my car and headed back to work. The whole point of parenting is to get your kids ready not to need you. We're doing that. Some steps along the path are bigger than others, and I'd say that this morning was a gigantic one.

Good job, Brooklynn.

Enter the building

puddle splashing

Puddle splasher After a pretty dry spring, we've finally been getting some rain lately. Tonight, after reassuring Brooklynn that the tornado watch did not mean we should move all the toys from the playroom into the basement shower for safekeeping, I got the girls outside in some nice rain.

If small puddles on the sidewalk are good, then the deeper water in the gutter is better, and that makes the fast moving water on the hill the best. Not to worry, Maddi only brought about a half inch of water in the bottom of each of her boots inside with her.

they don't need us

One of the things that Rhiannon and I have always felt strongly about is reading the girls bedtime stories. When Brooklynn was really little, we read a couple books that were more for the parents than for the child, a half chapter at a time each night. As she got older, we transitioned into a couple books each night that you can read through in one sitting. I think she is finally old enough that we could start reading longer stories a little at a time again, kind of like breaking a movie up into small pieces. Maddi is also now old enough that she likes her picture books and enjoys to read the same book multiple times in one night or repeat the same story night after night so she can find the pictures and say the words that she knows.

Or, maybe neither of them need us anymore and they will take over their own story needs.

Evenying Reading Bedtime Story

(Let's just keep the fact that Maddi's book is upside between us, ok? All she's really concerned with is that she finds which flap opens to reveal a baby.)

all grown up

When I first started dating Rhiannon, her youngest sister was six. Today is that little girl's 21st birthday. Sarah and the Kids

Kind of makes a guy feel old, especially when you consider that Sarah's oldest niece is eight and two years older than Sarah was when I first met her. At least now we can send her on a beer run. I knew we were keeping her around for something useful eventually.

Happy birthday, Sarah.

the cold

Happy winter from all of us in North Dakota. Bundled Up Bundled Up

December has had more days with lows below zero than days with lows above zero. In Colorado, lows below zero were considered life threatening. Here, they are just a fact of life.

I'm not saying that we're looking to move again, but I'm less than pleased with the first winter that North Dakota has rolled out to welcome us back.

trick or treat, twice the fun

Halloween 2013 This was our first year of having two kids holding out buckets for candy. While Brooklynn has been excited for trick-or-treating for months since she decided that she would be a princess, Maddi had no idea what was coming. We tried her costume on a couple weeks ago and she didn't like having the hood on her head. We figured that we would let her wear it a few times before hand to get used to it.

And then it was the morning of Halloween and we hadn't put it on her one time. The girls' school had a Halloween party, and I guess seeing the other kids in costume made it ok for Maddi to like hers, because we had no issues.

Brooklynn was also quite happy with her costume of a princess dress. The same dress she wore over the summer for her 4th birthday, except Halloween isn't in June. Brooklynn doesn't like to wear things like pants or sleeves with a dress because then she might be a real princess, and the idea of marring her perfect costume with everyday accouterments like a coat or sweater did not sit well with her. Unfortunately for her, the end of October in North Dakota isn't typically bare-arms weathter; hence, we ended up with the remnants of tears that you might notice in some photos.

Halloween 2013

Once we got going, both girls had a wonderful time. Brooklynn took care of the ringing of doorbells, typically remembering the trick-or-treat's and thank you's. The first couple houses we stopped at let the girls pick out candy from the bowls themselves, which confused Maddi for the rest of the evening. Instead of holding out her bucket, she would grab candy from everyone's hand and put it in the pail herself. Yes, she wants your candy, but no, you can't put your hand near her bucket. Thank you.

Halloween 2013

While Brooklynn didn't want to pose for pictures by herself, Maddi had no such issue. Unless of course, the posing may have prevented her from being up to a front door on time to get more candy.

they match

Maddi has spent her entire life preparing her cheeks to go with this shirt. I Heart Candy

I'd say it was a resounding success. In case you're interested in what her methodology is, see below:

Frosting

Speaks for itself, doesn't it?

i'd like some more

When Brooklynn was 12 months, daycare asked if she could have peanut butter. Up until that point, we had never intentionally given her anything with peanuts in it, so we figured we try it out at home that weekend. We gave her a little peanut butter on a graham cracker and she loved it. She also broke out in hives about 15 seconds later, so we said no to the peanut butter. For the next few years, we avoided foods with nuts for Brooklynn. She’s better now, but we just never tried anything with nuts for Maddi either. Until last night, Rhiannon was having peanut butter and celery at the dinner table. Maddi reached for her own piece of celery, but she didn’t want it plain.

We put a little peanut butter on the celery and Maddi sucked it off. Apparently it met her approval because she handed the celery back to Rhiannon for a second helping. She didn’t immediately break out, so here goes nothing, right? Peanut butter on celery handed to Maddi and celery returned shortly thereafter, devoid of any nut products.

At that point, rather than support the habit of quadruple dipping her veggies, we just gave her a spoon.

First taste of PB

She approved of that decision as well.

And no, Maddi does not typically eat dinner with no shirt, but between the yogurt and nachos and peanut butter, we were at the point of shirtless being the best option. I don’t judge your parenting style. Don’t judge mine.

what month is it

Rhiannon started her new teaching job this week. It came a couple weeks later than she would have started down in Colorado, so we had a little reprieve, but school typically signals the end of summer. Of course, the first day of school this year was also the hottest day of the past three months, so who knows what anything means anymore. I have to admit, even though I work in Bismarck, there are days it still feels like vacation. Like this is just a temporary assignment and at some point it will end and I’ll go back to my real job. Change is hard. It was hard to pack up and leave our first house, the home we brought our girls to from the hospital. Hard to leave the security of established careers and futures.

At the same time, change is exciting. We are within weekend driving distance of grandparents. We can run out and see cousins for an evening. We no longer drive a combined 75 miles and 2 hour per day, 5 days a week, and the alarm doesn't go off before 6 am. Hopefully, in a few years, we'll have a chance to build a custom house on some land we picked out without living 50 miles from our jobs or not spending into the 7-figures to do it.

Brooklynn still talks about her friends from Colorado. Maddi doesn’t, but then, Maddi doesn’t talk. We are still adjusting to a new life. Last year at this time, we would never have predicted this is where we’d be. At times during the process of preparing to move and actually coming up, it seemed like it took forever. Looking back, we didn't finish nearly everything we wanted to do before it was time to leave.

Is there a point to this? No, not at all. But I'm going to start writing more, and I needed to start somewhere.

Here's a picture of Maddi and firetruck that Rhiannon had when she was little. Because let's be honest, with as little as I've been writing, people are just checking to see new pictures of the kids once in a while.

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four years

We have a little know it all in our house. And if she doesn't know, she asks. And asks. And asks.

And even when she does know, she still asks, just to make sure Mom and Dad keep on top of things.

I guess when you are four and think you're a princess, that kind of behavior comes standard.

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Having parents that coordinate your birthday cake and party favors to match your outfit probably doesn't help in the 'sense of entitlement' department.

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Happy birthday, Brooklynn.

oh no!

We have been reading the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty out of Brooklynn's princess story book for a week now and she has been requesting to see the movie. Tonight, it's raining and we can't go outside, so I figured it was a good as night as any to watch it. Oh no!

Even though she knew it was coming, Malificent's first appearance was still enough to warrant an extended eye-covering period.

snow days

Rhiannon has yet to have a snow day teaching this year, and considering she has a week to go before state testing, she doesn't want one right now. However, that doesn't mean we haven't been waiting for a nice day with some snow on a weekend. This year in Denver, the snow has been pretty sparse, so getting a sunny day to get the kids out was too good to pass up.

This is Fun

On top of that, the snow was great for packing.

Snowman Building

Outside of the one mishap where the first attempt at a tall snowman fell over, it went pretty well.

Snowman Building

And just like so many other things right now, we are calling the snowman George.

Snowman Building

discovering the stash

Unlike Brooklynn, Maddi likes her some pacifier from time to time. Not all the time, but more of than not, she'll take one if offered. She especially likes one when she is just a little tired but not all the way to sleep when we lay her down. We keep her crib at an angle in her room so there is a corner behind it that is both hard to see and hard to get to. When we seem to be missing some of the seven pacifiers we have around the house at any given time, we can normally look behind her bed and find one that has dropped back there at some point during a night.

Or, on a night like tonight, we can find five of them.

Sometimes I hear a story in the news about someone hoarding supplies in case of a natural disaster or government collapse. If a catastrophic event that leads to the breakdown of our society ever does occur, and if one of the supplies in high demand after such an event is a collection of pacifiers, I feel confident I know where to go: Maddi's secret stash behind her bed.

Hoarder

Actually, she'll probably just share them with you.

Growing up fast

So things have been a little quite around here due to some big life changes and what seems like going from 5 am or earlier every day to about 8:30pm without a break. Rest assured that everyone is doing fine. I'm working on the backlog and hopefully, if nothing else, I'll keep up with pictures a little better this year. I don't think things are going to slow down at all, because look who's standing...

Freestander

Help us all.

maddi - month 9

Editor's note: Yes, I haven't posted one of these in a while. Don't worry, the unposted ones are all in relatively complete draft state. It's the pictures that I'm really lacking. So, I posted one without pictures. And yes, we are taking pictures. It's the post-processing that's the tough part to keep up with. Dear Maddi,

You are now nine months old, and it's a little overwhelming to thing that you've now spent as much time with us as it took for you to be ready to join us.

This month, you took your second car trip up to North Dakota, and I'm happy to report to you that it went much better than the first, for several reasons. You are a much better eater than the first time. At that point, you were terrible at burping, so the fact we did not find ourselves on the side of road to burp you was a big help.

Secondly, Mom climbed into the back seat to feed you and sit by you for a good portion of the trip. You like to see people, and having someone right there beside seemed to make being stuck in a car for 10 hours a little more bearable. The only drawback was the fact that you didn't like being put in the car for the drive to and from daycare without Mom back there with you.

You are tearing through pureed food about as fast as we can shovel it in your mouth, at least as long as it consists of meat and veggies. You have shown a distinct displeasure with fruit: applesauce, peaches, and pears. You make a grumpy face and stop eating. I'd say it's sweet that you don't like, but you seem to be ok with a little ice cream now and then, so I'm not sure what your hesitation is.

You may be eating a lot of food, but you are also moving around to burn off that energy. You crawl around with little regard for what might be in your way. A pile of clothes and stuffed animals - who needs to go around? Just crawl right through it.

You like to explore everything, especially the volume knob on the TV receiver and the dirt in the big pot by the steps. If we are sitting in the living room and you suddenly make a bee-line up front, chances are we will have to intercept you before you can get dirty. About halfway there, you will even stop to check if we are coming, and I imagine it's been frustrating to get so close before we grab you. Don't worry, you've managed to get dirty more times than we would like.

You are also pulling yourself up to standing now, so we expect that you will be starting to furniture walk sooner or later. I know that crawling is a great way to get around, but if you want to keep up with your sister, you're going to have to get up on your feet sooner or later. Let's just avoid going down the steps until you get a little more coordinated.

You fell off our bed for the first time (under my watch, as your mom would like me to point out) and landed on your forehead. Between your aunt who works as a neonatal intensive care nurse, a family friend who is a pediatric emergency doctor and the family physician, we called about everyone we could think of that night and no one seemed too worried. A little light bruise that went away was the worst of it, but we were pretty scared for a little bit.

You have also started to prefer Mom over Dad if given the option, so if you managed to associate me with falling, I'll take it. Making those connections at your age would be great. Either way, I still love you very much, just like your mom and sister do too.

Posing

And if you develop an unexplained fear of heights as you grow older, sorry.

Love, Dad

stop, thief!

It seems like this should be something out of a cop TV show, where the police chief gives a statement that the suspect was successfully apprehended, complete with incriminatory evidence, after a lengthy investigation. Then cut to the tv interview of the mother saying how she tried to raise her baby right but didn’t know what else she could have done and the token neighbor saying how shocked everyone is. Maddi is a sock stealer. Not only does she rapidly and repeatedly attempt to take off any socks we put on her feet, but now she is mobile and crawling, and early reports from daycare seem to indicate that she will attempt to take socks of the other kids. As they put it, she's on the prowl. All the time.

If her behavior toward me is in anyway typical, she really is very interested in feet and socks. Who would ever suspect such a thing out of someone with cheeks like that?

So Pleased

patched up

On Friday evening, as I carried Brooklynn in to the house after getting home from daycare, she told me her tummy hurt. I asked her what about it hurt and she threw up on me. Twice[1. I can verify that she ate all her corn for lunch that day.].

We were a little bummed out because we had planned on going to a pumpkin patch and activity center on Saturday morning with her friend Mason. We had already rescheduled one weekend due to inclement weather a couple weeks ago so this was our last shot before Halloween.

Corn Box

Rhiannon found out that Mason had been sick the weekend before and threw up for three days, so we weren't exactly confident that it would be something she would get over quickly[2. It also explained why Rhiannon was feeling sick for a few nights last week.]. We agreed to push back until Sunday and see how things went.

On Eyeore

Brooklynn didn't throw up at all Friday night or Saturday. Yes, she only ate graham crackers and took a 5 hour nap Saturday afternoon, but we won't complain. Sunday morning, after 36 hours healthy, the pumpkin patch was a go. Between the big slide, wagon rides, pony rides, pyramids, and pumpkin picking, we had about as much activity as we dared put Brooklynn through.

Driver's Seat

She threw up her only food of the day (mini-Oreos) later that afternoon, but she's been fine since then. Kids and their ability to bounce back.

pretty lights

I'd like to say happy birthday to my wonderful wife, Rhiannon. Because I'm a gentleman, I won't say how old she is[1. I imagine everyone who reads this already knows how old she is anyway.].

Sparkler Sundaie

And, because I'm a gentlemen, I also won't tell you that Rhiannon strongly considered blowing out that sparkler, nicely placed in the ice cream sundae at her birthday dinner. The fact that the ice cream is sitting on top of a half pound of cookie was what made the choice of dessert an easy one.