Jed directs an a cappella men's group at Rockford High School, and they recently performed "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" at one of the holiday concerts. Owen is great at singing the "wee mo weh" parts, including the ending where the boys hit goofy poses.
Here is a clip of Owen deciding to direct a choir made up entirely of Thomas the Tank Engine trains (his idea, I promise you!). He includes some choreography, some singing and of course, conducting.
There are some perks to living across the street from a Christmas tree farm! Here's our tree just before we shook off the snow and welcomed it into our home. If it looks snowy in this picture, just add another 12-18 inches in your head to imagine our current landscape. Merry Christmas!
There's a great Fall Harvest Festival in Rockford, and one of the things to do is make your own Scarecrow. For $6, they give you all the supplies to make it, and some of the proceeds go to charity. So we went and made our first Scarecrow this Saturday along with Ginny, Spencer, and Greta. We think he turned out pretty well, and he's now standing guard over our front porch.
(That day we also made our first trip to the Rockford Farmer's Market -- a great local market! I can't wait to go back.)
Owen's love affair with school buses continues -- this picture is from our departure for an overnight choir retreat last weekend. Since Grosse Pointe doesn't have any school buses, he's been having a blast watching all the buses go by all day every day in Rockford. And he always yells "Bus!" when one goes by or "Buh-Buh-Bus" if he sees two or more together. Fun!
Once upon a time, I was a little one who sometimes crept into my parents' room at night and would crawl into their bed. I quickly learned that if I got in on Mom's side, I'd soon be on the floor, in a sleeping bag she kept under the bed for these occasions. If I picked Dad's side, I got to stay on the bed. He might not allot much space, but he let me stay. Mom has always said that a double bed is just too small to add a little one.
Flash forward to September, 2008. Since we moved, Owen has been having a tough time sleeping in his new room. There were several nights last week when he'd wander in at 12:30 or 1, flip on our big overhead light, and crawl in our bed. One night in particular, he was unwilling to fall back asleep for, oh, 5 hours. Quite a departure from his usual habits. (with help from Dr. Ferber, we've mostly solved these problems with the following post-move adaptations: 1. no closed door; 2. later bedtime, earlier wakeup (so he's more tired at bedtime); 3. make his room more welcoming (we put his bookshelves back in); 4. play in bedroom during the day so it's more familiar.)
But the problems are a sidebar to my reaction. For the past 20 years or more, I've assumed that when the time came, I'd welcome my children to bed like Dad did for me. It seemed completely obvious to me. It turns out that I'm just like Mom in this case -- GET that child back in his OWN bed!! I swear, at 1AM Owen turns into some strange creature made entirely of elbows and knees. Mandy is more welcoming, but since he ends up in the middle, I've had to draw the line several times in the last few weeks.
Mostly I just think it's funny -- the difference between the parent I thought I was and the parent I am. And it sure vindicated the Queen to know that after all these years, I agree with her!
As you can see, we're finally back online after a struggle. For curious techies, cable and DSL aren't available in our neck of the (literal) woods, so our choices were dialup or Satellite internet. OK, our choice was Satellite. When the first installer (DISH Network) couldn't find a location, we picked a second one (HughesNet) which would cost $400 upfront on top of a minimum $60/month. That's for speeds somewhere between DSL and dialup and a 200MB download limit per day, after which they either shut you off or limit your speed to 56K. OUCH! Luckily, my sister-in-law Ginny sparked a memory at the last minute of an article by David Pogue. Long and short, we now have a Sprint data card hooked into a USB port. It's fairly brisk compared, though not blazing. And we're here. I expect we'll start more regular posting again soon, including pictures and such!
Charlie has been living in our basement for quite some time, and Jed decided yesterday that Charlie would be moving to the Salvation Army instead of Rockford. Little did we know that later that day Owen would find Charlie in the basement and bring him upstairs saying, "Pack...pack."
This morning, Owen was tucking Charlie into his bed and giving good night kisses. Then Charlie had a "Boo boo" and needed kisses and a Scooby Doo band-aid.
Owen has recently discovered the joys of the Gummy Bear YouTube video thanks to a visit with cousins Ariana and Parker! Tonight he showed Tashi the video on her laptop. We're so happy to get to visit with Tashi before she goes off to college next week.
Here's Owen doing a little dance with Tashi, Daddy and Grandma Queen (doing a dance off camera).
Owen has been playing in the hose at Grandma Queen's house today... The best part is when the neighbor children peek over the fence to say hello and giggle about Owen being (shhh!) naked!
Owen doesn't mind at all. He likes to look over the fence, wave and say "Hi!"
By the way, this picture was taken and emailed on site with Pop Pop's new iPhone! You rock Pop Pop! As I am typing this, Owen is playing with his "Burpmaster" key chain (a Christmas present from Grandma Queen) and telling us that the burping is really a recording of Pop Pop!
The amazing Grosse Pointe North Choir family threw us a picnic yesterday, and we had a chance to say goodbye to current and former students and parents. The kids bought me a sterling silver charm bracelet that has charms to remind me of our time with GPN. AcaFella signed Jed's AcaFella shirt with all the names from the past years! They are working on framing it for him. Finally, the parents gave us a beautiful Waterford Crystal vase so we can think of them always.
Look closely at the two pictures below. The top one is when Owen finally got his fingers in the frosting, only to be a little upset at how messy he was!
The bottom picture is when I convinced him to stick his fingers in his mouth and he realized that life is good when you have frosting on your fingers!
I got a new job teaching at Rockford High School as the second choir director. The job is part-time, so I'll have more time with family! Plus, Rockford is my hometown. We are so fortunate that my Mom and Doug decided to by a condo and move so that we can rent their house. It's a beautiful place to live and it's less than a mile from my sister and her family. Lucky us!
The big move is happening Labor Day weekend, but we have to find Owen before then...
The obsession continues, and Owen found a lot of joy in coming to Interlochen rehearsals where there were drums in the room. By the end of the two weeks, he was asking to come to rehearsal, "Herse, herse?" Of course, he would have to be quiet while the choir was singing, so he mostly stood and stared at the drums, whispering, "Boom, boom, psss...."
I couldn't possibly catch up on this blog about all the fun we had at Interlochen, but I can give some "Owen highlights." I have an entire album worth of pictures of friends and family that we had a chance to visit with...it was a fantastic couple of weeks.
This is one of my favorite pictures of Owen on the day we went to the beach. It was his first visit to a beach with lots of soft sand, and he enjoyed getting it everywhere! In the mornings, Owen likes to help Daddy with his belt, and he says, "Loop...buckle...loop." Except when Owen says it, it comes out "Lyooop..." Owen's obsession at Interlochen was the bus that stopped outside our cabin about six times a day. He would hear it pull up and run to the door shouting "Bus, bus!" The bus driver was so nice and often let us visit on the bus. She would honk her horn just for Owen as she pulled away, leaving Owen smiling and saying "Beep, beep! Me!"
We're having a blast at Interlochen -- and it's not even half over! I hope to get pictures and stuff up soon, but in the meantime picture me and Owen sitting and watching a world-class orchestra rehearse as I write this! In fact, he's often more engaged in watching the rehearsals than I am. He'll climb up on a bench and watch for fifteen minutes or more!
Owen's new favorite hobby is throwing rocks...at Mackinac, on the beach, in our backyard. Sometimes he holds on to his favorites and they end up taking a bath with him. Grandma Queen says that Jed used to come home from school with his pockets full of rocks. It's just the beginning for Owen.
We are leaving for Interlochen tomorrow, and we may be out of contact for a couple of weeks. Although perhaps we'll splurge for wi-fi in the cabin...you never know. Stay cool!
With Pop Pop and Jed on the boat, Grandma Queen working race committee and Jeff out of state working, it was just us girls and our little boys hiking around the island with all of our baby gear. It was an adventure...and a great time!
One of the best parts of Mackinac for Owen was the "horsies," which he's getting really good at saying. He had a lot of practice on the island!
Owen has an endearing habit of saying "tomorrow" (but it sounds like "mah-oh") whenever he can't have something right away. It gives him enough comfort to think that it might happen for him "tomorrow." He makes the sweetest little wistful face when he says it...
This is how it is right now for him with "horsies." Maybe tomorrow we'll get to see more (sigh).
This is a rare shot of Owen (2) and John (1) sitting together for longer than a second. Bonus! They're wearing their matching Bayview Mackinac shirts!This is really a better depiction of reality...they spent most of the time going in opposite directions. Fast!
It starts out like this...Owen splashes Sybelle from the sprinkler, she makes a big (pretend) fuss, and he laughs with this adorable belly laugh that would make anyone smile. Imagine this scenario for approximately 6 hours and you have our evening together tonight. You may be wondering if we had the sprinkler on for 6 hours? Well, I'll tell you. We didn't need it, since it was just as hilarious to pretend to splash Sybelle with an imaginary sprinkler! Ha!
We are so excited to have Sybelle in Michigan for the next few weeks! She was the flower girl in our wedding and a cousin (of sorts). Technically it's a little tricky...Sybelle is Jed's cousin's (Katherine) daugher. Does that make her our second cousin? We're really not that concerned. For the sake of simplicity, she's our cousin. And Owen's cousin!
Sybelle flew in this morning from Boston, and we're driving her up north this weekend where she will be a camper at Interlochen in the Intermediate Choir program for 3 weeks. Wait, did I say Interlochen? Yes, I did! We'll be joining Sybelle up north in about a week, since I'm teaching with the All-State Choir program. Our family rents a cabin right on the campus, so we'll be able to have Sybelle over for dinner or go out for ice cream when she can spare a minute. She'll be so busy having an awesome time with her new friends, we'll have to bribe her with Owen kisses.
Speaking of Owen...it's love at first sight with his new friend (I mean, cousin) "Belle."
Katherine and Thom, if you are reading this, please know that Sybelle is safe and sound in Michigan. We promise to take good care of her and have a really great time!
Owen's word for drums is "boom boom pssh." This is one of our favorite parks because it appears to have a large collection of drums (although, I suppose some kids would decide to walk over them like a bridge). We prefer to entertain ourselves with a little "boom boom pssh" when we visit!
When I check out of the library, like I did today, with an armful of great books for every member of the family, I always have to fight back the urge to reach for my wallet and ask, "What's the damage?" Instead, they just say, "you're all set," and out we walk. And as I exit I feel like I've perpetrated some scam -- they'll let me just walk out of here with these things? All I have to do is promise to bring them back on time?
(I should mention that I was never good about due dates as a youth, but our library makes it very easy for us with online renewals and reminder emails two days before the due date. How great.)
All this is to say that we got some great Mo Willems books for Owen today. We own, and we LOVE, "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus." It's simply great, both the writing and the illustrations. So we picked up today "Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late," and "The Pigeon Finds A Hot Dog." Plus a few others that looked fun.
Whatever age you are, stop by your library and find these Mo Willems books. You won't be disappointed. You'll also probably find six or eight things you've been meaning to buy. FOR FREE!
We're so lucky to have friends like Cheryl and Bob!
Owen was so excited to see them for dinner last night. He was looking out the window when they pulled in and shouted, "Bob!"
This is a picture of Bob showing Owen the new magnetic puzzle book they brought for him. This morning, Owen woke up and carried his new book around saying, "Bob! Bob!" Showing off the new bead toy to Cheryl...
Owen likes to have Cheryl pull out a pen from her purse and draw "O's" on his hand. It's a long tradition that started this year, when Jed and Owen would stop by school for a visit and we'd all have lunch together.
Pop Pop has a beautiful set of Lionel trains with a raised track in the basement. I think the best description of Owen's reaction to the trains is "delighted terror" (coined by one of my favorite authors, Catherine Newman). Owen would cling to Mommy when the train went around the track, but he was always asking for more..."Pop Pop, choo choo!" Here the boys watch the train go around and around...John and Owen are lucky cousins to get to play trains with their Pop Pop.