In which Erika describes bits of our lives for those who care.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Opal's Birthday

 Opal's 2nd birthday was on Saturday, which made for a fun family day. Her vocabulary is exploding these days. Just yesterday she counted to three (instead of saying, "Nine, nine, nine" for everything she counts). She's also building quite a repertoire of silly faces and enjoys sitting on the potty, though it seems to be more of a hobby than a lifestyle at this point. She's very cuddly and is testing my vow not to spoil my children, esp when she tips her little face down and says, "Me honey, Mama" ("I'm hungry, Mama") in the most pitiful little voice you can imagine, usually when she smells the opportunity for a "nack." (Apparently "s" is a challenging sound for kids--mine, at least.)

After a breakfast strata, Opal was ready to open her first present--a homemade book of baby photos: cut, glued, captioned, and wrapped by her big brother Rolland.

 Here's the birthday girl with decorations and presents. 

We spent the morning at the Forest Hills Community Expo. No, we don't live in the Forrest Hills community, but it was a nice way to spend a morning, we got lots of free samples. Here are the kids having a quick lunch before nap time.

Opal wore this hairclip to the Expo and seemed thoroughly confused by the attention.

Grandpa and Grandma Sterken came over for a Rice/Chicken dish and Kale-Peanut Salad, followed by...


 Dirt Cake! I was really happy with Naturally Nora's yellow cake mix, and I used the mousse that you usually layer between the Oreo crumbs for the frosting. It was pretty amazing. Rolland decorated.

After we ate, Opal tore into the rest of her presents: dolls, Duplos, and a backpack full of treasures. She had the lip gloss half gone before the night was over.

And just for fun: Here's a shot from the first day of Spring yesterday. I couldn't really capture how hard it was snowing. Last year at this time it was 80 degrees.

My favorite photo from our Spring Photo Shoot.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Update on Opal

Since Opal will turn two exactly one month from today, I thought it would be appropriate to share a little about how she's progressing, since I'm sure I won't get around to it on her birthday.

One of the most fun changes is in her vocabulary. She's in that "explosion" stage where she says new words daily--almost hourly. Her current favorite, though, is "Nomine!" which she uses, for example, when she's playing with a toy, and Rolland walks by on the other side of the room. I know most kids go through either a "No" stage or a "Mine" stage, so this is a fun treat, especially since I don't remember Rolland going through either--although, as Dave points out, oldest children don't have as great a need for vocabulary involving boundaries and possession. That said, I'm looking forward to the, "Please don't touch my stuff" stage, or maybe even the, "Come, dear brother, let us share my most treasured possession" stage.

Another favorite is, "Aw, MAAAN!" said with the same low-high pitch change used by much older children...and her parents. Obviously, Dave and I laughed the first time we heard her say that one, so it's now a regular part of our conversations with her. When I was nannying in Chicago before we got married, my boss informed me that I had taught her son, "Oh, rats!" (which, of course, I learned from my mother). I'm not sure why these expressions of disappointment catch on with kids, but I'm glad I don't use more colorful language, or I'm sure everyone in the grocery store would know about it eventually.

She also said her first three-syllable word ("buckaroo"), followed quickly by her first three-syllable phrase ("Here I am!") last night while skyping with Papa and Gigi, so be ready the next time you see her. I'll still be available to translate, though I may take some liberties, depending on what exactly she says about you.

It looks like it might be best to save her favorite greeting for adults ("Thpppph!!!"), her circus-like leaps from high places, her inexplicable crying at 6:00am every day this week, and her obsession with babies for another segment on her development. Let's see if I can find an appropriate picture or two to wrap it up....

 Here she is demonstrating the baby thing I told you about. (This is Anastasia Baby--Rolland's pick for his new little sister's name, but we won't be going that direction, so we thought a doll would do.)

 Learning from big brother.

 This is called a "love brush," where they tip their heads together while brushing their teeth. I'm not sure who started it (I guess it must've been Rolland) but they do it occasionally when both are in a good mood. Yes, Opal is wearing Rolland's pjs, which she usually wears in multiple layers, so this is is a rare photo. (In case you noticed the background, my belly is much bigger now.)

 A closeup at breakfast. Sorry about the red-eye. She's actually blue, like her daddy. It's just hard to catch her smiling on camera.

See? She actually enjoyed Christmas quite a bit, though you wouldn't know it from any of the pictures.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Rolland just came out of his quiet time room (the play room) wearing a Chinese silk vest, an Air Force hat, and cowboy boots. He walked over to me carrying a small cardboard suitcase wrapped in a life jacket, and asked me to help him zip it up. Daddy asked what that was for, and he said, “I’m having a pretend dance class, and my pretend age is 5, and I thought I was the daddy, but I just found out I’m the uncle, and this is my present box!” We’ve been watching a lot of Nutcracker recently, if that explains anything.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

First a story, then a few photos.

Yesterday the kids in our BSF program heard the story of Cain and Abel, and at lunch afterward I wanted to talk to Rolland about it. It can be hard to get him to talk about what he's learned, but for some reason he launched happily into a nice, long, three-year-old version of the story, including that God didn't want Cain's sacrifice, which was a carrot. When he said that Cain killed Abel, I said, "Why did he do that?" to which Rolland replied, "His heart was in the wrong place." Suspicious, I asked, "Where was his heart?" Rolland pointed to his chest, near this shoulder. "And where should it have been?" Ah, if only Cain's heart had been a few inches closer to the center of his chest, as Rolland indicated, his legacy could've been so much different.

This is Opal. She is not potty trained. In fact, she is very un-potty trained...unless "potty trained" means that she can indicate the spot on the carpet where she just peed.

Here's Rolland working hard on a foam paw from the Hobby Lobby clearance rack. Tongue out.

Two cute kids cuddling on the recliner. Opal's favorite word is "cozy."

 Rolland dressed up as...any guesses?

This one is more obvious. I had gotten Opal undressed in the morning, and then gone out of the room to get something. The next thing I know, she comes waddling up to me, proud as she can be at having dressed herself. And, yes, both legs are in one hole. Textbook.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Saying it Out Loud

Last night we ended up having kind of an un-sleepover, which led to a very late bedtime for all three of us, and yet God used my bladder alarm to get me up quite early this morning. As I was reading my Bible (because I figured that why He got me up), I found Isaiah 40:28-31 about how God doesn't grow weary, and He gives strength to the weary. I printed it off, hung it up, and proceeded to make coffee, when suddenly I realized that I was way too excited about that caffeine jolt. So, after an embarrassingly long struggle, I dumped the coffee out and decided to see if God would really give me the energy I needed to parent well all day. And I really think He did, and coffee had nothing to do with it. So, I thought I'd better give him the glory for that, and how much more public can you get than the internet?

The end.
(Until tomorrow when I get weary again.)