October 31, 2010

Dear Mom and Grammie

Dear Mom and Grammie,

Since you two are likely the only ones left reading my sad little blog, I'm addressing this to you. I apologize for my laziness in blogging and have great aspirations for November.

My goal is to post once a day . . . all month long.

Wish me luck.


October 27, 2010

In fifteen minutes or less . . .

  • Isn't it funny how you always think that the NEXT stage your child reaches will be easier. And it is in all of the ways you want it to be easier right now. But then there's all of this new stuff that's way harder. Maybe it's just me . . .

  • I got my order from Cute Tape last week and it's official. I'm in love with Japanese masking tape. I'm their new best customer. Oh, the possibilities . . .

  • Jack was pretending to talk to a friend on my cell phone a few nights ago and ended the conversation with, "Well, just text me back when you know where we're going." It sounded a little too natural.

  • Ben wants to be outside ALL the time. I guess it's probably always been that way, but now he walks around whining and saying "OUT! OUT! OUT!" so it's more obvious. Obviously, the next few months of being stuck inside will be a challenge.

  • We're making Jack's Halloween costume . . . something I'll likely never do again. Last year, I spent $60 on Jack's costume. Seems immoderate, right? I never wanted to spend more than $10 on a Halloween costume, but I had a feeling I would get a return on my investment. And I did. I sold it this year and made an $18 profit, because it was from Pottery Barn Kids and was discontinued so it was in high demand. All in all, it was a good investment. This year, we'll probably spend about $20 on his costume, and we won't be able to do anything with it when we're done. Plus, we have all the hassle of trying to put it all together and make it work. Grrrr . . .

  • At dinner each night, we each tell what the best and worst parts of our day were. If you've ever worked for me, you'll recognize that this is not something that started when I had children. Staff meetings regularly included this ritual.

    Anyway, I'm loving it that after we finish praying, Jack immediately starts asking us the our best and worst parts of our days were. And it's even better when he hypothesizes about what Ben might say if he could tell us.

  • Holiday business is picking up and I'm LOVING IT. The first year of Christmas craziness, it was a totally surprise. I was blindsided. The second Christmas (last year) I had a newborn. Way hard to be holding down a full time job, managing the business and taking care of an infant. This year, I predict that I'll have my act together a little more. I don't think it'll be easy, and there's a lot that I'd like to do that I don't have time for, but I think I'll have a good time.

October 24, 2010

Bennett the toddler

13 months old

Overall, Ben is really mild mannered and even tempered. I think I remember saying that about Jack at this age. With Jack 12 - 18 months was my most favorite stage, and it's proving to be true this time around as well.

Though he's pretty easy going, we are starting to see the fiesty toddler come out more and more every day. He shrieks when something is taken away (usually an iphone, keys or remote control) and does this little stomping thing when he gets really angry (usually when he gets something taken away AND he's tired). We have an old tivo remote control that I've been letting him play with, but he knows the difference, because when he presses the buttons, nothing happens on the tv. It's so funny to watch him start pressing buttons and staring at the tv waiting for it to come on or do something, and then throw it down when he realizes he's been fooled. And he runs away the minute he knows he's been caught with something he shouldn't have.

We've started time outs. I know some would say it's too early, but we started time outs with Jack around this age and it's worked pretty well. We only do it when it's obvious that he's knows what he's doing is wrong and does it anyway and there's no "natural consequence." He sits in the chair and cries a little, but will stay there until I come to hug him and reiterate, "Obey Mama."

His list of words is growing, though we're usually the only ones who can understand them. My favorite thing he does is reaches his hand out and scratches us and said "icka icka icka" (tickle tickle tickle). Apart from actual words, he babbles incessantly.

He crawls up and down stairs which means we have no more baby gates up and I had forgotten how nice it is to live barrier free. He can reach things on the counter an on our high table so we've suddenly become very intentional about pushing things far from the edge.

He weighs 24 1/2 pounds, which is what Jack weighed at 9 months old. So even though he's a good size, he's still our small baby. He was 32 1/2" at his one year check up, but is 33 3/4" now, so he's grown 1 1/4" in the last month. That's not a surprise, because each morning, he looks significantly bigger than he did the night before. I can't help but wonder how much he weighs now.

October 18, 2010

Any ideas?

Sara (no, a different Sara - I'm not just speaking in third person) apologized for her "bloggy lameness" last week, and I need to make that same apology. I feel like I'm up against a bit of writer's block. I have things I can write about the boys . . . about how Jack says, "YESSSSSSS!" every time something goes his way and how Ben's newest word is "fish" - though he only uses it to refer to the Pepperidge Farm variety. To get the full effect, you really have to imagine all of the spit that comes flying out of his mouth when he says the "ish" part.

But so much of what is going on in our house right now is hard to write about. I can't really explain in written words the funny faces that Ben makes when he tries to ham it up. I can't find the right way to explain the intangibles that make Jack seem like he's grown up so much over the last month.

I could write about Jack's trike-a-thon, but well, it would go something like this: "Jack rode his tricycle in a preschool fundraiser and enjoyed it."

I could tell you about Ben's one year check up, but that would go something like this: "He's 24 1/2 pounds, and a number of inches tall that I can't remember."

See what I mean? Any ideas? What should I write about?

Help me tackle this bad case of writer's block.

October 16, 2010

The last two months on twitter . . .

I've fallen behind on posting my twitter feed, but here's the last two month's worth. I have to keep track of these day to day things, because it's what I'm most likely to forget!

October 15
I hear Jack screaming and Kyle using his firm voice . . . should I go up and help or stay holed up here in my office? Let me think . . .

Headed out to cheer jack on at the Trike-a-thon.

October 9
And you all who left early . . . You're missing out, too. http://yfrog.com/5mz1usj

If you're not at our house right now, you're missing out. http://yfrog.com/41gf7rj

October 8
Jack walked into the kitchen and saw the muffins I made and said, "Hey . . . is Maria here or something?" Hmmm . . .

October 5
Why do spies on tv always answer calls from friends & family during chases and stake outs? I think a good spy might turn off his phone.

September 29
I took Jack to McDonalds for b-fast this morning & he asked for chocolate milk. I told him it wasn't a healthy choice. Yes, I see the irony.

September 28
Jack told me he was good for Kylie today, "with one exception." How does he even know what an exception is?

September 27
Between new birthday toys and two active boys, it looks like a tornado just touched down in my living room.

September 24
Jack: Uh, Dad can you do me a favor? I saw fur when I was in bed and was like,'Is there a monster or something.' Could you check?

September 23
One year ago right now I was snuggling with my baby boy for the first time. While he screamed his head off. Ahhh . . . memories.

September 22
The enormity of my to do list is rivaled only by the heaviness of my eyelids.

September 21

September 20
Jack's obsessed with the idea of buying the "for sale" fire truck in spring arbor.

September 19
I looked 2 weeks larger than this a year ago at this time. http://www.flickr.com/photos/lukecommasara/3895425722/in/set-72157622278099344/

September 18
Yesterday, I ran into Megan (on crutches) and Kyle (with his arm in a cast) and I began to wonder if our staff is falling apart without us.

At home alone with Ben this morning . . . . realizing how much alone time I DON'T have with him.

September 16
Getting stuck in the rain while running . . . bad. With two boys in a stroller . . . even worse.

September 15
Jack just handed me the video camera and said, "Can I talk to the Internet?"

September 13
Me: No, sorry, I'm a natural light photographer . . . I only shoot with available light. Her: Well, could you use a flash? Me: Uh . . .

September 6
Earlier tonight, Jack told me that Jesus was born in a stapler in Bethlehem. And I didn't correct him.

August 31
Jack just walked up, pressed a ruler against the back of my head and said, "Big." And then walked away.

August 28
Jack playing dress up at the Correll's house . . . http://yfrog.com/ng8ruhj

August 26
Our oven is still broken. :( Cooking over a camp fire for dinner. :)

August 25
Our newest challenge. http://yfrog.com/n7a33mj

August 24
Jack just asked why I used to be Mommy Wietholter.

Jack just put my camera strap around his neck and said, "Look . . . now I'm a Mama!"

August 22
Jack just told Ben to stop or he'd never make him smile again.

August 21
It seems obvious to me that staying up later should equal sleeping in later. Jack and Ben seem to disagree.

August 20
Does everyone's three year old request Veggie Tales, followed by the Black Eyed Peas? Or is that just mine?

Jack just asked if he could stay at Easton's house forever. It was a good day.

August 16
It's amazing how quickly two little boys can make a really clean house not clean anymore.

Jack pretty much thinks it's his. http://yfrog.com/44tjnj

October 15, 2010

Favorite Books GIVEAWAY: WINNER!

The winner of the Halloween books left this comment:

Agreed, Megan.

If you didn't win, you can go ahead buy them here:

The Ugly Pumpkin


The Hallo-wiener

The next book I'm giving away won't be released until this TUESDAY, but I am already sure it's going to be one of our favorites, because it's from one of my the boys' favorite series of books! After it arrives next week, and we've read it a few thousand times, I'll post about it and give away another copy.

Thanks to everyone who has been buying the books from the links on my page, and making it possible for me to give away these books!

October 10, 2010

Favorite Books GIVEAWAY: The Hallo-wiener and The Ugly Pumpkin

We're not ones to really get into Halloween. In fact, during this time of year, I get sick of all of the Halloween ideas in the magazines that I read. I don't really want to make food that looks like real fingers or eyeballs floating in my drink, you know? We do a little bit of decorating for fall, and the boys go trick-or-treating, and that's about the extent of it.

Favorite books for fall

However, there are a couple of Halloween books that we love, and I wanted to share two of them with you.

The Hallo-wiener
I'm not going to lie . . . the hot dog puns in this book are what drew me to it. It's about a dog named Oscar who is described as half a dog tall and one and a half dogs long. He gets made fun of by the other dogs who call him "Wiener dog! Wiener dog!" I don't want to give the whole plaot away, but let's just say that by the end of the book, the other dogs are referring to him as a "Hero Sandwich" instead.

The Ugly Pumpkin
This book rhymes . . . and you know how much I love rhyming! It's about a different looking pumpkin who is just looking for a place to fit in. Throughout the Halloween season, he gets made fun of and harassed, until one day he realizes, "OH MY GOSH, I'M A SQUASH" and finds his place at Thanksgiving.

I'm giving away both of these books to one lucky winner. Leave a comment on this post and be sure to include an e-mail address or blog address, or some other way to contact you (only one entry per person). I'll draw a winner on Friday and if you send your address that day, I'll have them to you by Monday or Tuesday. If you can't wait until then, go ahead and buy them now . . . I can't believe how cheap they are on amazon!

October 8, 2010

Dear Jack and Ben, Months 40 and 13 respectively

Dear Jack and Ben,

Many people enter adulthood and suddenly feel like they aren't intelligent or experienced enough to share their opinions or provide insight. They sit around and wait for other people to solve problems, take action, and do their part to make our world a better place. I've become keenly aware of that this month.

Playing in the rain

Somewhere along the way, we start to feel insecure . . . and sometimes even ashamed of ourselves and how little we feel we have to offer. We sit there knowing that we'll never do great things with all of our deficiencies holding us back. It's so wrong for us to feel that way, because God has gifted each of us with our own unique perspective and our own original ways to impact our world. We spend so much time focused on our areas of weakness, and our strengths just go to waste.

Playing in the rain

Once you fall into that trap - the trap of feeling not-good-enough - it's so hard to break free. I've been thinking a lot lately and wondering how to make sure you two never lose it . . . the courage to speak your mind and do what is right.

Right now, there is very little that you are afraid to share . . . for better or for worse. Jack, you speak your mind openly, and if you have something to share or offer, you do it boldly. Ben, you're not speaking yet, but I can already tell that you won't be shy about it. I want to preserve that spirit of boldness in each of you, while teaching you that it must be accompanied by love, gentleness and kindness.

Playing in the rain

The challenge to "make the world a better place" might seem daunting because, well, it's THE WORLD. But you don't go alone. We serve a God who both calls and equips us. Oh, and he goes with us, too. Some Christians look at our world and can only see the evil that runs rampant, but I'm hopeful because I know that God is at work. I see glimpses of His grace in the eyes of everyone I meet and I am confident that he is at work drawing everyone to Him.

Playing in the rain

So my question to you both (whenever you're old enough to read this letter) is this: What will you do to bring Him glory with the short time on earth He's given you? How will you be a part of His work? How will you respond to God's calling on your lives? How will the world be different because you're here?


October 3, 2010


This week, I was trying to cram things into our hall coat closet and Jack said, "We need a bigger closet." I thought about it a little bit and responded, "No, we need fewer coats." Our house isn't huge, but we have way more than enough room . . . it just sometimes feels cramped and cluttered because of all our massive amounts of unnecessary "stuff."

So, we are in the middle of a purge. If we don't love it and/or it never gets used, it's gone. The camp garage sale is in 2 weeks, and we're well on our way to donating more than anyone else (not that its' a contest . . . but if it were . . . well, you know). We've spent much of the day clearing out our home and storage area of useless junk.

Part of this involved me going through some old trunks full of memorabilia that I've been collecting for 32 years now. I sorted through medals and report cards . . . old papers on the solar system and yearbooks with some insightful messages from former classmates. Did you know that I pretty much had every birthday card I received from the time I was born until I turned . . . oh, about 21? Because I did. The parent info folder on the trip to Europe I took as a high school junior was still there, with every last bit of no-longer-relevant information about the trip. I also found what might be some of my very first "graphic design" work, which I hope to scan and post later this week.

As I've been going through all of this stuff, I've forced myself to throw things away that I really wanted to hold on to. I know that I will never need all of the sheet music I ever played in high school (given that I no longer own a flute and have no intention to buy another one), but I wanted to keep it. And I realize that ribbons that I won on the 7th grade swim team and figure skating medals from 1987 are not things I ever plan on displaying, but throwing them away seemed so wrong. And why on earth do I need to keep every RSVP card from our wedding, sorted in order of where they were seated? What is it that makes me cling to those things so much?

I guess some of it has to do with wanting to remember who I am and who I was. I wrote a while ago about how we all become our own doppelgangers and that's good . . . I just don't want to forget how I got here. And I guess a part of me wants my boys to know this too.

The crawl space at my parents' house was where they stored all of this kind of stuff. They were actually pretty good about throwing stuff away (or so it seemed), but there was one box that belonged to my mom that held her childhood report cards and a few other things that were hers. There wasn't much, but for some reason, I loved looking in that box (and often did it when she wasn't around, because I got in trouble every time I messed with it). It didn't tell me much about her, but was fascinating to me to think about my mom at my age. I always wondered what it would be like to meet her then.

I guess this blog will serve as a better keepsake than medals or trophies ever will. And I'm leaving so many ways for my boys to know who their mom was, that they'll probably wish I had left a little less. But as I hear Kyle taking the trash bags out to the garage, I still feel like I'm saying goodbye to a little piece of my history.

October 2, 2010

It's official. He's one.

We had Ben's first birthday party on Sunday and it was a lot of work fun!

When Ben was just a few weeks old, I found cookie cutters at IKEA that were shaped like forest animals . . . one of which was a hedgehog. You might remember that I really wanted to do a nursery for Ben with a hedgehog theme, but hedgehog baby stuff was tough to find (imagine that). So instead, it blossomed into an idea for a birthday party. I scoured the Internet and found some great ideas for the party!

But my last minute trip to see Oprah set me behind and I never really caught up. While most people looked at the party and probably thought everything looked great, all I could see was everything that I didn't have time to finish, and the sloppiness of everything I had to rush through. That's how it always goes, right?

I had a cute "Happy Birthday Bennett" banner that was supposed to hang across the room, but it wouldn't stay up. I literally threw everything on the dessert table as guests were arriving. The table cloths weren't ironed, the trees were lopsided and the buffet signs were cut in such a rush that edges were jagged.

I had this plan to put halved mini marshmallows on the red cupcakes to make them look like toadstools . . . but this didn't happen because cutting marshmallows in half is harder than it looks and I ran out of time. The good news there is that Maria made them so they still tasted amazing and looked great even without the marshmallows. If you haven't had a cupcake by Maria, you do NOT know what you're missing. We ate the last one last night, and I'm grieving their absence this afternoon.

On the other hand, the cookies and cake pops that I made . . . well, let's just say that people would have believed that Jack made them with how awful they looked.. I tried to use a new frosting recipe (which was supposed to be a cross between royal icing and buttercream . . . big mistake) for the cookies. And with all the humidity during the week before his birthday, the cake pops cracked and crumbled.

And because it was all being thrown together at the VERY. LAST. MINUTE. I was able to take very few pictures. It wasn't bad. It was just a little sloppy.

But you know what? Bennett didn't care one bit. And I suppose that's what matters.

Here are some of the photos . . . you can see them all here. You'll have to excuse the duck wallpaper border. There are some things you just can't change. You can see all of the photos here.

The birthday boy . . . dressed by his father NOT in the outfit I had picked out for him. I did my best to let it go.

Bennett's first birthday

Bennett's first birthday

The cupcake stands and the trees in the center of each table were built by Kyle.

Bennett's first birthday

Bennett's first birthday

Jack "helped" Ben blow out his candle . . .

Bennett's first birthday

And boy did he love his cupcake . . .

Bennett's first birthday

I wanted to do a birthday video for Ben like I did with Jack, and I think most people assumed that I didn't because we don't have as much video of Ben as we do of Jack . . . which is false. We actually have about twice as much video footage of Ben. It was just all taken on our phones and doesn't translate to a television screen as easily. My plan is still to put one together and post it online. At some point . . .

October 1, 2010

These are the days

September, 2010

Jack received Melissa & Doug magnetic calendar for Christmas last year, and we finally got around to hanging it in his room. We just changed it over to October tonight, so I thought I'd better get these pictures up. He loves keeping track of the days and likes being able to see where we are in the month.

September, 2010

September, 2010

Favorite Books GIVEAWAY: WINNER!

The winner of How I Became a Pirate left the following comment:

Unfortunately, you didn't leave any contact information! Contact me at sarawiety [at] hotmail.com or leave a comment with your e-mail address and I'll get your copy to you.

If you didn't win, purchase a copy here.

In the next week or two, I'll share two of our new fall favorites . . . books that I've read to my boys at bedtime every night this week and still love! Check back . . .