Home again!

Bryan and I are back home after ten great days in Texas.  I know I’ve had a good, long vacation when the idea of being back home again makes me feel oh-so happy.  Bowser and Spook are really, really glad to have us home again too.  Such affectionate kitties!

WordPress, the platform on which I write this blog, just did a nice new upgrade.  It made many things slicker and more streamlined, but to my dismay, it broke the plugin I use to pull my photos into blog posts from Flickr.  I’ve tried a couple other similar plugins, but those too are broken.  I’m hoping that all those lovely people who spend their time making plugins feel quickly motivated to solve this problem.  In the meantime, I’ve got to figure out how to share pics.  I can just upload them to Wordpess, but I’ve got this whole system with Flickr, and I try to make photo-stuff more automated rather than less!

OK, I just found a psuedo-solution, so I think I’ll spend a little bit of my very quiet Monday, January 2 snuggling with Bowser (who’s nestled on my lap in front of my laptop) updating my blog.

12-28-11_TexasVacation_095Happy 2012!

Almost Christmas!

I wish I’d been posting more this month!  The kids have been so adorable, and our calendar has been so full of fun Christmas-y activities!  We’re heading out to Texas in the morning, and while we’re gone, we have some good family friends staying at our place.  Feels good to have the bags packed, the gifts mailed, and to be all ready for the celebrating to begin.

Hope that wherever your Christmas takes place that you have a wonderful time.

Rest in peace, Grandpa Harvey

Sad news to share today.  Bryan’s maternal grandpa, Grandpa Harvey passed away last night.

I feel really lucky to have married into a family with so many lovely people.  And Grandpa (and Grandma) Harvey are two of the sweetest, kindest people I’ve known.  Since I first met Grandpa 14 years ago, he’s felt just like a grandpa I’ve always had.

I’m so glad we got to spend lots of years visiting and sharing the growing family with him.  Here he is with baby Andrew…

And baby Sylvia…08-04-11_Forrest-Harvey_021

Here’s a cute couple of pictures of Sylvia and Grandpa playing together when she was 2.



Grandma Harvey passed away in May 2010 (you can read her funeral tribute here), and since that time, Grandpa’s had a tough road.  Losing his wife of 70 years wasn’t comprehensible to him.  I think he’s probably glad to be at the end of his life’s journey.

Here’s the family together after Grandma Harvey’s funeral.10-05-16_Forrest-Harvey_073

And here’s an image of Grandpa from our last visit with him this May.  Sweet Grandpa, we sure will miss you.  With both you and my Grandpa Babler gone, who’s going to flirt and ask me to be his girlfriend?  I’ll miss holding your hand.11-05-21_Forrest-Harvey_102


Here’s a picture of Grandpa and Grandma when they got married in 1939.10-05-15_Forrest-Harvey_058


Here’s Grandpa and Grandma…still together 70 years later.
10-04-16_Forrest-Harvey_050Whatever happens after life, I’m glad to know that Grandpa and Grandma are in it together.


Ballet and tap – the cuteness pierces my heart

Sylvia has been taking ballet and tap classes at the YMCA since January, and she L.O.V.E. loves it.  It’s actually a little hard to believe that dance class is such a relatively new part of our lives.  My Sylvie girl just eats it up.

Parents get to come into the classroom to watch the last day of the session, so I was there again, cameras in hand.  Ready to capture the unbelievable cuteness of tiny kids in leotards.

It was a bit remarkable for me to see Sylvia in a class setting.  She was the kid who raises her hand ever few minutes to tell the teacher what’s on her mind.  And Ari was a very kind listener.10-25-11_ballet-and-tap_004

This one cracks me up…she wanted her foot touching Ari’s during the stretches.  This is a girl who adores her teachers.10-25-11_ballet-and-tap_007

Isn’t this the sweetest thing ever?  Here’s all the girls holding hands.10-25-11_ballet-and-tap_010

And <ack!> my sweet one gracefully moving.  I love the stretch of the fingers, the tilt of her head, the attention she’s paying to her movements.10-25-11_ballet-and-tap_017


Oh, they’re all so cute!  And I love Sylv in the background here, wrapped up in her pose.10-25-11_ballet-and-tap_022

During the free dance, she was skipping about.  Check out the tongue sticking out.10-25-11_ballet-and-tap_025

Attempting to skip across the room while alternating leading knees.  She’s thinking hard.10-25-11_ballet-and-tap_030

Ari’s technique for helping the girls learn how to jump high is to be a tree and they are trying to pick the fruit off her hand.  This is my favorite pic of the morning!10-25-11_ballet-and-tap_040


Wait, maybe these next two are my favorites.  My chest has this involuntary heave when I look at her pointed toe and her straight fingers.  Oh my, what a curtsey, Sylvie.10-25-11_ballet-and-tap_043



After ballet is tap class.  The energy and movements are so much bigger, and Sylv was so delightedly caught up in the excitement of it all.  An hour is a long time for a three year old to stay focused!10-25-11_ballet-and-tap_049

Think she’s enjoying herself?  She kept signaling for me to take her picture.  Love this picture of the girl on the right too!10-25-11_ballet-and-tap_057




10-25-11_ballet-and-tap_069Ahhh, I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I did.  If you need a cuteness fix, just bookmark those pictures so you can come back to them.  They are sure to improve almost any day.

Breaking it down with Eli and Celia

One afternoon in late October, we had Eli and Celia over, and all the kids engaged in a little dance show.  The boys were caped wonders, dancing fiercely and courageously with ninja moves and powerful dances.


The girls seemed to prefer a more flowing dance style.  Yet they still had a lot of power in their sometimes cute, sometimes where-did-you-learn-how-to-move-like-that (!!) too-sultry-for-three-year-olds dance numbers.


Celia brandishes her cape with a flourish.


Then of course, there were the combined dances.  Fortunately, there were no collisions.

Here’s all the dancers after the final bow…10-18-11_untitled_052

Jessica, it’s so fun to watch these kiddos play and move and grow together over time.  Thank you for sharing your amazing kids with Andrew, Sylvia, and me!

Playing with Evelyn, Amalia, and Alex

My friend Heather’s little girl Evelyn was in Wisconsin with Heather’s parents (her first solo visit!), and we got to join them for a play date at the Dream Park.  Here’s Sylvie, Evie, and Celia on the tire swing together.10-18-11_untitled_006

There’s Evie on the swings.10-18-11_untitled_007

Three girls eating carrots on the playground bench.

We had a picnic, and the girls ate lots of pb&j sandwiches with grapes.  Then toes and fingers got cold, and it was time to pack it in!10-18-11_untitled_021

A few days later, Heather and Michael drove up to Madison from their new home in Indiana.  They brought with them two little munchkins whom I <aaarrrggghhh> haven’t yet met.  Here’s me holding darling Amalia.  I was relieved that she looked like her pictures.  It felt nice to recognize them.  Amalia is a bit of a clone of her sister appearance-wise.10-20-11_untitled_059

How lucky was I to have a baby fall asleep on me?10-20-11_untitled_060

Oh, the sleeping sweetness.10-20-11_untitled_062

And there’s Mr. Alex.  Such a charmer and so full of personality.  I love this little mister and all his sweet tiny fingers and toes!10-20-11_untitled_065

Here’s Amalia taking nap #2 of the morning in a sling.  10-20-11_untitled_069

The next day, I met up with Heather and her family to take photos with Heather’s grandma.  Such a treat it was to spend hours together!  Thanks, Heather and Michael, for making the trip north!  I’ll try to get down to Indiana to see you this winter.



Sylvie’s room – after

Sylvia’s new room is all pulled together.  I hung her fairy bower over the bed, I got a small 9-cubby shelf for her treasures, her dresser went into Andrew’s room, the rocking chairs went away, and my grandma’s secretary came in as her new dresser.  It feels so colorful and clean and pulled-together!  So happy with my big girl’s room.


The basket in the corner is full of her dress up skirts, and I hung a mirror down low so she can see her costume changes.  My mom did the needlepoint sampler over her white shelf, and Bryan and I put together the bird puzzle when I was pregnant with Andrew.  The mobile hanging from the ceiling fan came from Bryan’s parents in Israel.10-10-11_rooms_006

Here’s the view from the fairy bower…10-10-11_rooms_009


I took the closet door off, which opened up some room for the doll crib to be at the foot of Sylvia’s bed.10-10-11_rooms_012

10-10-11_rooms_016Weeks after putting it all together, I still walk into her room, smile, and sigh.  It sure does make me happy to have sweet rooms for my kids.

Sylvie’s room – before

Here’s Sylvie’s bedroom when she still had her sweet toddler bed.  Oh, so cute!08-22-11_SylviasBedroom_001

Tucking her dolls in to her bed and into their crib.07-12-11_iPhone_004

Here’s her dresser (now with the mirror removed, it’s Andrew’s dresser), and the bookshelf in the spot where it’s been for the last 6.5 years.  08-22-11_SylviasBedroom_005

Big girl with her pacifier in her little bed for just about the last time.08-22-11_SylviasBedroom_006

Here’s Sylvie’s closet with the new double rack and the shoe shelving.

The dolls are in a rocking chair that came from my Grandpa and Grandma’s house. 08-22-11_SylviasBedroom_011

Some favorite Sylvia artwork on her door.08-22-11_SylviasBedroom_013

My girl’s pretty fairies and flowers display.08-22-11_SylviasBedroom_014

Flower fairy letters on her wall spelling her name.08-22-11_SylviasBedroom_018

The view from her bed.08-22-11_SylviasBedroom_019

Then, out went the old bed, shift went the furniture, and voila!  A new bed (with a small mattress for the the time being).
08-29-11_FirstDayofSchool_018Stay tuned for more images of Sylvia’s completed room!

Andrew’s new bedroom

Andrew and Sylvia got new beds this fall.  Since he moved out of his toddler bed, Andrew’s had the lower trundle from the bed I had a kid.  I kind of wanted Andrew and Sylvie to share one bedroom and have the other room be a play room.  But Sylvie really needs her own space when she gets mad – which is still a lot – so after discussing it, we decided to keep two separate bedrooms.  However, we’d already talked about bunk beds, and Andrew was pretty keen on (read: committed to) the idea.

The bed itself was back ordered for a month, but in October, it came in, and I’m so happy with how it looks!  I took all the wall hangings down and re-hung them in places that I liked.  For the past four years, they’ve been hanging in spots where there happened to be nail holes in the walls, and it felt nice to put things together in a more cohesive way.

Andrew’s room looks nice and big since I took these pictures with a wide-angle lens – actual dimensions are (12.75′ by 9.5′).  (Sylvia’s room in contrast is is 9.5′ x 9′ square.)





I’m so happy with how this guy’s room looks!  It feels nice to have pictures on the walls in a nice configuration (the blue fabric square is from Joe’s trip to Sri Lanka and the tapestry is from his trip to Ecuador).  The water color drawings up around the top bunk used to hang in the living room, but Andrew liked the idea of them in his room.

He’s slept on the top bunk since the bed’s second night here.  And Sylvia has in turn slept on the bottom bunk.  It’s fun to have these two munchkins falling asleep and waking together.  Good for sibling bonding:)

And I’m so happy to have these rooms furnished and arranged in ways that makes my heart glad.  Happy big boy room, Andrew!