I overheard Molly and Tucker playing last night.
Molly: When we are grownups, I will marry you. And I will follow you wherever you go!
“What’s that smell?” –Molly
I hear this question at least five times a day. The funny thing is that I’m the last person she should be asking what a smell is because I have allergies and am almost always stuffed up or sneezing.
In other news, I’ve been working on how to take studio-esque pictures at home. I really do like the posed kind of studio pictures, but the ones we got home from each kid’s school last year didn’t even look like them. Then Molly was sick this year and missed her pictures and my commitment to hauling her somewhere to take a yearly picture has been very low. So I’ve been experimenting with lighting and backdrops and came up with an easy set up that gave us some great pictures.
Molly was soooo much easier to take good pictures of than Tucker. Tucker has a fake camera smile that makes his eyes bug out, so he was quite the challenge. I got a million great ones of Molly… and one of Tucker that was okay. But the ones of the two kids together melt me.
Here are some of Molly’s out-takes (I know, the lighting isn’t quite right on some of them but since they’re out-takes I didn’t take the time to correct it)…
And here are Tucker and Molly’s out-takes… see what a good influence Tucker is on the picture-taking process??? :)
Molly officially turned four last week, but it sure has felt like she’s been four for awhile in terms of the way she acts. I love the times when she’s still little—she still loves to snuggle and still sleeps with her lovey in her mouth (“mouth bunny” she calls it). But I also have flashes of time when I feel like she’s a teen in training already, like when she tells me “Mom, don’t say THAT!” This year, she was obsessed with all things birthday, so she started “writing” invitations to her birthday party back in June. It involved using any notecards she could find around the house, and scribbling/writing random letters on them while she narrated phrases like “Dear Lukie, you are SO special, I love playing with you. Please come to my party. Love, Molly.” She changed up the messages she was writing for each friend.
By the time Tucker’s birthday came and went in September, birthday anticipation had reached fever pitch in my favorite soon-to-be-four-year-old. All in all, big non-family birthday parties aren’t my favorite thing and I will work on convincing the kids that maybe next year we’ll plan favorite outings with favorite friends instead… but this year I didn’t even have the heart to offer her an alternative to a birthday party, she was so excited about this one. Of course, the other great thing about four year-old birthdays is that the parents stay and that the kids are totally happy with free play. This year I buried some whistles in plastic bags in the sandbox (treasure) and we strung Apple Jacks, pretzels and gummy lifesavers on string to make necklaces. That was about the extent of party prep. Unless you count making an all-orange bunny cake because as Molly will tell anyone who will listen, orange is her favorite color.
Molly at four is very, very into me and wants to be my sidekick at all time. She is very vocal about her opinions about just about everything, her opinion is not easily changed, and she is not easily distracted. Last night I closed her door after I put her to bed and she was mad because she wanted me to keep it open. She immediately opened it, but then proceeded to wait 30 or 40 minutes while I took a bath just so that when I came out of my room again she could tell me (again) that she was sad because I had closed her door initially (and demand another kiss). Man, that type of sulking takes concentration!
Her favorite thing these days is ballet. She loooooves her ballet class. At her class’ visitors day last week, I was shocked at just how enthusiastic she was in that class—I believe she was the only little girl who answered any question. She also told her instructor at least four times that her favorite color was orange, and other useful bits of info like her brother is 7.
Molly loves letters and writing and crafts and has a long attention span. This morning after we dropped Tucker at school she came home and begged me to help her write her thank you cards for her party. She was on her fourth one before she got bored. I wish I felt the same way about thank you cards! She is very excited about becoming a big sister and is already specifying what the baby is going to be doing. I think she may be disappointed with how little babies actually do at first….
One of my favorite conversations with her lately:
Me: What’s your last name?
Molly: Yes, bug. Molly June BUG.
I love you, my favorite Molly June Bug!
My newly-minted 7 year-old is keeping things close-lipped in these pictures, but if you saw his grin, he’s missing his two front teeth. His favorite things now are sports, sports, and sports. After his birthday party, he told me that his favorite part were the races—not the treasure hunt, obstacle course, cake, pinata, balloon fights, etc… Anything that lets him run as fast as he can, and preferably win, is Tucker’s favorite right now. He has decided that he wants to go to UVa and run on the track team for college, because you can win more medals and trophies in a sport like track than in a team sport like basketball, though he does plan on playing basketball professionally when he grows up. One great thing about Tucker is that he does love to practice and doesn’t seem to mind putting in the work. He loves to go out to the shed and workout with Austin. It took awhile, but Tucker is now a competent bike rider who likes to go fast (I do appreciate that he remains risk-averse…). (Molly is thrilled to have Tucker’s smaller cast-off bike with training wheels.)
Tucker sometimes seems so old, but on his birthday he went to bed wearing new superman pajamas, clutching a helium balloon, totally excited about $20 worth of Matchbox car plastic tracks. It made me thankful he’s not THAT big yet.
In terms of his party, I tried desperately to get him to take us up on an expedition to a UVa football game, or a waterpark, or a trampoline place (all offers included a friend) rather than doing a full-out party. It didn’t work. But we agreed on inviting 7 friends since he’s 7—of which only 5 could come. Perfect number. He had a great time, and I wasn’t scarred like last year. But maybe next year the non-party option will be the winner?? I can hope, right?
Better late than never, but here are the pics from the kids’ first days of school. Their first days happened nearly two weeks apart, since Molly is in preschool and Tucker is at the elementary school. Molly was sulking during her pictures, so it was hard to get anything decent!
So far, Tucker seems to like first grade and his teacher. In October they’ll start having parent volunteers so I feel like I’ll get a better sense for the class then, but mostly it sounds like a pretty seamless continuation of the end of kindergarten. His bus pick-up was moved from 7:29 to 7:05 so I am driving him most days to school… that extra half hour means a lot a 7 am!
Molly mostly talks about how one girl in the class doesn’t listen. She has two favorite friends that she will also talk about when pressed, but mostly I only hear about the girl that doesn’t listen (apparently, according to the preschool head, the not-listening-girl-situation is actually very bad).
The best project that happened by far this summer was the outdoor shower that Austin made (shown here sans door). I had no idea how much it would get used, or how nice a feature it’d be, especially with this gorgeous view of the garden (when the door’s open, of course).
I got on an outdoor whimsy kick, after concluding that I don’t really enjoy playing with flowers very much because it is never done. After I realized my problem with getting into flower gardening, I thought, well, why don’t I do some outdoor beautification projects that are one-time efforts?
So in addition to spreading a lot of mulch and building up our small stone edging in our entrance bed, I started on lots of little things, like making a little stone sculpture out of leftover rocks to hide an old decaying stump….
And a towel rack out of a stick and some knobs we had lying around…
and a bird bath out of the base of a lamp I got at the thrift store for $2 and a ceramic plate/bowl I got at the Habitat store for $1…
and some suncatchers out of melting Perler beads, either into circular baking pans or stringing them onto wire and melting them (the kids helped a lot with this one!)…
and some flowers out of drink cans to dress up the wall of the outdoor shower…
and some art for the porch out of the random bits of metal we’ve found around our house while gardening…
and some more art for the front porch…
and art for the side porch…
And a dragonfly that I made out of a table leg from The Habitat Store ($2) and some old fan blades from a dead ceiling fan….
A couple of our nature highlights from this summer include this big old black snake eating an egg. (Pretty impressive! Note, the second picture is meant to show how long this dude was.)
And here is a snake just hatching out of its egg. I was spreading mulch, and apparently our black snakes like to lay their eggs in the mulch. As I spread the mulch I kept coming across these eggs. One of them hatched about 30 seconds after I moved it from the mulch I was working on. Black snakes when they’re little aren’t black, but are actually striped like this little guy. The reason I know for sure they’re not copperheads (which as adults have much more similar markings to what this guy looks like now) is that copperheads are viviparous—give birth to live young—so no copperhead eggs.
We are flying back from Seattle tomorrow and have had a fabulous time, between doing the Seattle sights, having lots of great family time, and hanging out on an island. This picture is waiting for the ferry to take us back from San Juan Island this morning.
Here are the pictorial highlights…
Crazy faces… loving cousins
Scoping out the dock… GoGo and the kids…
Elise, the sweetest ever…
Crabbing from the docks…
Doesn’t Dylan look angelic? Just to warn you, this guy runs fast… and gives the best hugs. He managed to talk the monorail driver into letting him toot the monorail horn.
The tidal pools on San Juan Island were so neat. We saw sea urchins, anemones, starfish, jellyfish, barnacles, mussels, small fish… and more!
The highlight of Molly’s trip was building houses from the amazing quantity of driftwood on the beach.
Space needle and monorail…