Friday, November 17, 2006

Talia Lily Wheeler

At long last, we have a name for our sweet new arrival: Talia Lily Wheeler. We hope you like it. If you don't, well, to be completely honest, we hope you won't tell us. Perhaps it will grow on you.

Here are a few of the reasons it's grown on us, just in case you're interested. (By the way, we take no responsibility for any inaccurate meanings--if they're wrong, blame the baby name books. With 55,001 names to sort through, we didn't take time to verify.)

- In Hebrew, Talia means "Dew from Heaven." The arrival of our beautiful girl certainly seems like dew from heaven, both in her sudden appearance as well as her consideration in coming on her due date. With Mommy in graduate school full-time, she couldn't have picked a better moment.

- In Greek, Talia means "blooming." The son of a horticulturalist, Jason likes the idea of having a blooming lily around the house.

- A second Greek meaning is "golden." We think that fits our baby blonde.

- In Latin, Talia means "birthday"--kind of appropriate when you're playing the naming game.

- Talia could go by Tallie as a nickname. We like that because it reminds us of her blonde Aunt Callie who wishes she could live closer. She could also go by Lia, or even Tal (in honor of the Spackmans.)

- We think trying to say Talia Lily Wheeler three times fast is quite amusing. Try it sometime...

Anyway, we hope all is well. More pictures coming soon!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Speedy Gonzalez

Well, Anonymous is finally making a blog post... I figure after all that Kara went through yesterday, this is the least I can do to contribute.

The day started off like any other with me making my mad dash for the bus in the morning in order to make it to class on time and Kara getting Brooklyn ready for the babysitter before heading off to classes of her own. Despite being the scheduled due date for our little "Jasper-it", the day proceeded as normal - after all, tired mommy and I hadn't seen the slightest indication that the baby was coming any time soon.

After my morning class, I picked up Brooklyn from the sitter's, then met Kara at Christie Clinic for her weekly check-up with the Nurse-Midwife. They attached Kara to the monitor to track the baby's vital signs for 15 minutes or so just to make sure all was going well. While being monitored, Kara had two contractions... Little did we know what we were in for.

After the appointment, Kara went to her phonology class, then we swapped Brooklyn and I headed off to Studio. Lousy weather was beginning to beset the Champaign Urbana "metropolitan" area, with strong gusts of wind and cold, pelting rain. After studio I braved my way through the freezing weather and the crowded bus and finally made it to the safety of our home. Kara happily greeted me and informed me that her afternoon had been "interesting..." Apparently he contractions hadn't stopped after the doctor's appointment, and were even becoming more regular. "Cool," I thought. "Maybe this baby will come before Thanksgiving after all..."

A couple hours later and with an increasingly uncomfortable Kara, I finally suggested that maybe we should think about going to the hospital. Christy and Ben were over visiting for the evening, and with Brooklyn already in bed they had no qualms about staying the night. So at 9:40, Kara and I loaded up the car and ventured out into the dark and stormy night.

Arriving at the hospital, we found the front door to be locked with little indication of where to enter the building (I guess I shouldn't have been so stubborn about not taking a hospital tour...). We tried checking a couple other entrances, but with Kara's mobility rapidly decreasing, I finally picked up the emergency phone in one of the doorways and called for help. It was a good thing too... we hadn't been in our room but a few minutes when the baby decided it was time to come.

So, at 10:44 pm last night, Kara and I became the proud, happy, surprised parents of a beautiful baby girl. (Stats: 6lbs, 14oz, 19.25 inches) All we need now is a name for our new bundle of joy.

How about Speedy Gonzalez?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

And a Few More Pictures

October Fun

Despite being busy, October was a great month for us as we enjoyed a visit from the Andrus family. Grandpa Kay and NomiAnn Cathy came to visit for the weekend, along with one of Cathy's former students, Lily. Lily, originally from China, is looking at attending graduate school at the University of Illinois. We hope she comes, as we're always in the market for great babysitters.

Here are some photos of us at Hardy's Reindeer Ranch and hanging out at home. Brooklyn was the star of the show as she modeled the adorable Halloween costume Grandma made--coined a "sheepoodle" by Aunt Callie. Whether puppy or lamb, Brooklyn was the hit of Halloween. She absolutely loved trick or treating, and made everyone smile as she crawled from place to place.

Camping in Kickapoo

This fall we had a fabulous time camping in nearby Kickapoo State Park with Christy and Ben. When not cooking yummy chicken pot pie in our dutch oven, we ventured across the border to explore Indiana's Turkey Run State Park. What a beautiful place to hike! Come visit and we'll show you. :)

Mopping the Kitchen Floor

I have the most wonderful family. Not only does my husband mop the kitchen floor while I'm away at school, my little girl helps as well! Unfortunately, Brooklyn also "mopped" the bathroom floor unsupervised last week as well. I went upstairs to discover her sitting fully clothed in the bathroom sink. The water was running full blast and pouring out everywhere, soaking the linoleum, carpet, etc. Our munchkin simply looked at me, grinned, and starting splashing the water out of the sink as fast as possible. I think we should have named her Pippi or Ramona.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Big Belly's Back

Once upon a time, many months ago, there lived a tired Mommy with a large belly. Despite her expanding abdomen, she did her best to keep up with the family blog--that is, until the E-mail of Doom. Now the author of the E-mail of Doom, who shall remain unnamed, did not intend for Tired Mommy to read the message. Nevertheless, Tired Mommy discovered the following text about the blog sent by Anonymous to a friend: "don't feel like you have to read the entries... they get rather lengthy, but there are some good pictures of us all..."

After a friendly marital spat, it was concluded that Anonymous should be responsible for maintaining the blog. Unfortunately, Anonymous has since been very busy, and many months have passed. Tired Mommy has grown impatient and finally decided to catch up before the Brooklyn Blog becomes the Brooklyn and Baby B Blog. Not to mention, why should you eager readers suffer because of our family feud? :) So please forgive my verbosity--at long last, here's What's Up with the Wheelers.

September: Jason and Kara both head back to school at the University of Illinois. Jason combines his sleepless life as an architecture student with work as a project manager for the Solar Decathlon. He's supervising the design and soon to be construction of a solar house to be displayed in Washington DC next October.

Kara joins the Masters Program in Teaching English as a Second Language, and now knows more about phonology than she ever imagined possible. She also enjoys teaching a TOEFL class at the Intensive English Institute.

Brooklyn decides that there is nothing better in the world than nursery. She zips out the chapel door as soon as the closing prayer is said, sprints all the way around the building, and starts playing with a puzzle before Big Belly Mom can even catch up.

October: Life becomes one continuous round of Toss the Toddler. Trading off Brooklyn between classes, meetings, and teaching is definitely hectic, but happy. There are many days when Brooklyn will ride on the bus to campus with Mom, only to come home on the next bus with Dad. Fortunately, our happy girl hasn't seemed to mind being passed around. Her favorite moments are when she gets to play with her Aunt Christy and wave to Pam, the bus driver. And of course, her first words every morning are now "Miriam's House!" as she asks about the next time she can go visit her friend.

November: Now that November has finally arrived, the Wheelers grow restless as they wait to meet the newest member of the family. Despite an abundance of unfinished papers and projects, they wish the baby were already here. Somehow everything else seems to pale in comparison. At the very least, childbirth makes a good excuse. Just an hour ago Jason told me, you know, if you went into labor right now, I wouldn't have to take this quiz. What can I say? I just couldn't "deliver."

***Note: Tired Mommy sends her apologies for the lack of photos in this verbose entry. All of the photos are on Anonymous's laptop, and Laptop rarely leaves Anonymous's lap. When Laptop is finally available in the evening, Tired Mommy is too tired to blog.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

There's No Place Like Home

As originally coined by Miss Dorothy in the Land of Oz, there’s no place like home! After a wonderful two and a half weeks traveling all around this beautiful country of ours, I am so glad to be back in our peaceful little townhouse in Savoy.

Beginning backwards (kind of an oxymoron, don’t you think?), the trip home from Utah was quite a hoot. Brooklyn unfortunately caught a dose of the flu and woke up wailing in the middle of Wyoming. Not knowing what was wrong, we pulled over at a rest stop to let her out of the car. I was carrying her inside when all of a sudden, whoops, she lost her breakfast (and last night’s dinner too, judging by the mushrooms) in a murky puddle on the sidewalk. The police officers walking behind us had to dodge out of the way to avoid the foul danger zone. Yuck! We felt so bad for our feverish little girl who typically has a stomach of steel. Our sympathy was matched only by our gratitude for the fact that the disaster didn’t happen in the car. I feel fairly certain that the stench would have caused pregnant me to toss my own cookies as well.

All things considered, however, Brooklyn was quite a good car traveler. In fact, when we finally arrived in Omaha at 11:00 at night, she whimpered “car, car, car” until we let her crawl back into her car seat. Throughout the course of our long trek, she adopted the Andrus Honda Odyssey mini-van as her very own, and was sad to leave it behind.

Happy car passenger as she might be, I don’t recommend taking Brooklyn for any long trips on the train. Since Christy needed Jason’s help in Chicago, Brooklyn and I took an Amtrak train from Union Station to Champaign. The trip got off to an auspiciously rocky start, to say the least. As the train jolted from the station, Brooklyn lost her balance, fell down, and gashed her eye. As I rushed Brooklyn off to the bathroom to stop the bleeding, I was horrified to discover that I didn’t even have a binky to console her with. After eight hours of car travel, an additional two and half hour train ride can seem like an eternity, especially with a noisy, tired, grumpy, and pained nineteen month old. To get the full picture, you have to understand that every seat on the train was full, and I am getting so large that Jason thinks of me when he hears the “Hippopotamus Rock.” It must have been quite a sight to watch this pregnant lady waddle back and forth along the train, trying to console a whiny blue-eyed blond with a bloody forehead and matted car-seat hair. It was only 6:30 p.m. when we finally reached our destination, but I was exhausted and ready for bed. There’s no place like home!

Well, enough of about our travel fiascos. The truth is that the happy moments far out-numbered the traumatic ones--they’re just not nearly as interesting to write about. Here were some of my favorite parts of the trip:

· Going camping with Grandma Susie and Grandpa Charles up by Bear Lake. We had a fabulous time picking huckleberries in Immigrant Canyon, visiting the newly remodeled Paris Tabernacle, and trekking up and down a thousand stairs in Minnetonka cave. We swam, roasted smores, and even saw “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” at Pickleville Playhouse. Brooklyn was mesmerized! We also took a short but beautiful hike to see Paris Springs. The journey was made even more memorable when Grandpa Charles lost his balance (and his hat) crossing the stream. On such a hot day, the icy water must have been refreshing!

· Taking a trip with Susie to visit the dinosaur park in Ogden. Brooklyn thought the life-size dinosaur models were fairly interesting, but she was most fascinated by the dirt along the trails. After throwing it, rolling in it, and building towers with it, she finally resorted to lying on her belly and lapping it up like a cat. Strange child...maybe she needs more iron in her diet.

· Visiting Brad, Eliza, Jane, and Bruce in Provo. It’s amazing how much Bruce and Brooklyn look alike! You know, people have told Jason and I that we look like each other, and we have a very happy marriage. Maybe those two could try it...

· Going on a real date to see “Man of La Mancha” at the Eccles theater. The production was tremendous. Cheesy as it sounds, it truly inspired me to have the courage to pursue my own impossible dreams. (Remind me of that in a few months when I’m in graduate school with a toddler and a newborn.)

· Attending the Logan temple with Jason and eating one of Charles’s famous blackberry shakes. Being far away geographically from a temple has helped us better appreciate the blessings of temple attendance. What a special experience to return years later to the place you were wed, feeling just as in love as the day you were married, and even more certain that the right answer is “yes.”

· Going on morning walks with Susie and picking yummy green beans from the garden.

· Spending two wonderful days in Omaha with Grandpa Kay. Thanks to his bountiful garden which the rabbits have mysteriously shunned this year, we ate lots of yummy gazpacho soup and picked the first pumpkins of the season. We rode the carousel at the zoo, played in the wading pool, saw the new Joseph Smith movie at the Visitors Center, walked through Fontanelle Forest, visited Randy Brown’s monumental home, and ate gyros at King Kong. I even had a chance to pamper myself with a pedicure. Now if only I could see my toes...

As you can see, we truly did have a wonderful vacation. Yet as grateful as I am for all of the wonderful memories, it’s still good to be home.

Here's Brooklyn bonding with the gorilla after enjoying a gyro at Omaha's "King Kong" Restaurant.

Aren't carousels fun? This picture was taken at the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo.

Brooklyn and Grandpa Charles both thought that breakfast was the best part of camping.

Finally, here's a multi-generational picture taken with great-grandma and grandpa Hansen.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Good news! After 22 weeks of waiting, we finally had our sonogram and took a sneak peak at our babe-to-be. The conclusion--(drum roll, please)--we're having a girl! That is, of course, unless we have a boy. The truth is that our fickle fetus had its legs crossed in exactly the wrong place to get a clear view of anything. I believe the words of the sonographer were, "Well, if I had to guess, I'd say it's a girl, but I really can't tell." I guess Brooklyn's sibling has decided to surprise us. We'll have to wait patiently for a few more months until our babe decides to reveal his/her true identity. In the meantime, since we're not sure whether to refer to our child as Jasper or Jasperette, we're compromising with Jasper-It.

Here's wishing all of you boys, girls, men, women, and androgynous folk a fabulous day.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Toilet Trauma

At long last, the adventure has begun! For her eighteen-month birthday, Brooklyn received her very own potty. Now I have to tell you, this toilet is much smarter than your average pot. Somehow it sensed that wrapping it was particularly challenging since I was running low on half-birthday paper. Fifteen minutes and some minor frustration later, I finally finished the task and placed the package on the dresser. Out of nowhere, the box congratulated me with an enthusiastic "All Done!" (flush), immediately followed by a "Way to Go!" (flush again.) I must say, the positive reinforcement made me smile. Let's just hope it does the trick for our own little potty lover.

Thus far, Brooklyn has decided that she wants her potty seat on the big toilet. At first I thought it was simply because she wanted to be like Mommy and Daddy, but I've since discovered that she considers this abode to be her new swimming hole. I left her alone on her porcelain throne for about twenty seconds and came back to discover her proudly standing in the toilet water! By the time Jason arrived with the camera, some of the glee had worn off as she figured out that she was stuck and couldn't get out. All I can say is thank goodness the toilet's right next to the tub!

Life here is definitely a constant adventure. Brooklyn's fascination for all things aquatic extends beyond the world of toilets to the realm of fish, although sometimes her two interests nearly overlap. Below you can see her intrigued by the fish at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago:

Well, perhaps we shouldn't encourage her fish fetish, because it's nearly proven deadly to our own Beta fish, Gus Gus. Sunday morning I was sewing a button on Brooklyn's dress and feeling pretty proud of myself because A) it looked like we were going to be on time to church, and B) I was actually being somewhat domestic. Well, five minutes later I ventured down the stairs to discover Brooklyn sitting on top of the bookshelf, soaking wet with her elbows in the fish bowl! Half of the water had already sloshed out, drenching the floor, furniture, and a few unfortunate reading materials. Worse yet, Brooklyn managed to unscrew and dump out the entire canister of fish food. There's nothing like a floor full of soggy blood worms to wet your Sunday morning appetite. Fortunately, Gus managed to avoid our babe's curious fingers and didn't have to personally navigate our sewage system.

I suppose I shouldn't complain too much--turn around is fair play. Brooklyn was quite patient with me when I practically choked her during her camping bath in a dish basin. She'll put up with nearly anything for an excuse to splash.

Here's wishing your family many laughs from (or at) the Wheelers!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Excuses, Excuses

At long last, the Wheeler Family has returned to the world of blogging! Rumor has it that we are way overdue for some new pictures. Here are our top ten excuses:

10. Speaking of due, Brooklyn is due to become a big sister in November. :) Unfortunately, pregnancy has left Mom much more inclined to recline than write.
9. A month ago, I stopped working full-time at the College of Engineering. While I love getting to spend more time with my family, being a stay-at-home-Mom is definitely more challenging (and time-consuming). Eighteen month-olds don't understand the meaning of lunch hour or fifteen-minute breaks. All I can say is thank goodness for naps!
8. We're still recovering from finals and studio projects. Jason deserves to sleep for a month.
7. The swimming pool is open. :)
6. Daddy has been home to give Brooklyn underdogs on the swingset and Mommy foot massages. Play time!
5. We like to camp. No surfing allowed! (Internet surfing, that is. Unfortunately, there aren't many beaches nearby, so the other kind is out too.)
4. Keeping Brooklyn fed is a relentless task requiring our constant attention. My goodness, our girl can eat! It all goes straight to her cheeks, too--the ones up top, that is. A week ago Brooklyn climbed out of our bed early in the morning (we have a tradition of snuggling before getting up so that Mommy can get a few more winks.) The next thing I know, I hear her downstairs screaming bloody murder. I race down the stairs, grabbing a robe to keep me decent, only to find Brooklyn perched in her high chair. She stops screaming, smiles at me, and says "cracker!" (Brooklynspeak for breakfast.)
3. Brooklyn loves the computer and always "helps" as you type. Her new favorite button is the on/off switch. Thus, blogging (and anything else productive) is relegated to moments of toddler unconsciousness. Have you noticed how everything in our household revolves around sleep?
2. Biking and rollerblading are lots of fun!
1. We were held hostage at the petting zoo by a European deer that devoured Jason's favorite shirt.

Anyway, despite our plentiful excuses, we contritely acknowledge that we're slackers. We shall repent, and sin no more! So, here are some photos to make up for it. Too bad I don't have a picture of the deer...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Voices of Angels

As you can see, Brooklyn is learning to talk, um, I mean yell. It's been an interesting experience to be around as she explores the world with her newly discovered voice. Angel? I suppose--although the last picture might suggest something more devilish.

Say Cheese!

Queso. Fromage. Kaese. It's been a while since we've published any pictures on our blog, so I thought we'd add a few new photos. Here are some favorite pictures of recent visitors we've had:

Grandma Susie came for a great visit in March. Here she is exploring Champaign's Children's Museum with Brooklyn.

Christy and Ben made the trek down to Savoy as well to celebrate Jason's birthday with some yummy pot pie.

And Dad, while not a visitor, still entertained us with his ring balancing tricks. I'm glad the old noggin' is good for something!

Friday, March 03, 2006


February is yicky. Yicky and blah, with a brief glimmer of pink on Valentine's Day, unless you happen to be alone (as many are), in which case it morphs into the black brand of Single's Awareness Day.

Fortunately, March has arrived. The sun is shining, Spring is coming, and I am smiling. I'm smiling because I'm pulling my life back together following the dreary winter blues. I've gone on a cleaning spree, thanks to the FlyLady. A friend recommended a book called Sink Reflections. I'm not one for testimonials, but I really have noticed a positive change since adopting some of her mottos and routines. My sink is sparkling, the meals are planned, the laundry's done, and I finally feel like I'm on top of things.

Best of all, for the first time in a very long time, I'm actually enjoying my personal scripture study. Since my clothes have been laid out the night before, I have time to ponder and reflect as I study in the morning (before the baby's awake). With the house tidy and clean, I can concentrate on what I'm reading, listening to the still, small voice of the Spirit instead of the obnoxious shouts of the dishes screaming "Wash me! Wash me!"

Despite my overall pleasure with my newly organized home, I must tell you that the FlyLady caused one of the most disgusting messes to ever occur within the walls of my home. It is an absolute commandment that all FlyBabies (newbies trying to declutter their lives) must wear lace-up shoes, particularly while at home. So, obedient child that I am, I wore my sneakers while cooking chicken for dinner the other night. I was just finishing the last of the dishes when I felt something slimy beneath my feet. I looked down and was horrified to discover mashed chicken guts all over the floor! I had stepped on a piece of raw chicken, wedging it in the sole of my sneaker without even realizing it. Needless to say, I spent my daily fifteen-minute cleaning session disinfecting that mess!

Not to be outdone, Brooklyn quickly took over the champion title of GROSS. I inadvertently left the toilet brush out instead of tucking it back in the closet immediately. My mistake. My big mistake. My big yicky mistake. A few minutes later, I spied Brooklyn with the toilet brush in one hand. She was using her other hand to scoop up the nasty water that had collected in the toilet brush holder. I caught her just as she started to suck her fingers after a nice big dip.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Wanted: A Competent Mother to Care for a Very Cute Child

My child is adorable. Not to be conceited or anything, but everybody tells me so—the pink-haired old lady handing out shopping carts at Wal-Mart, the burly truck driver who coos at the gas station, the I’m-too-cool-to-look-at-you teen who pulls faces and plays peek-a-boo at the mailbox. Not only is my daughter adorable, but she’s actually pretty good too. While there is the occasional tantrum, these can usually be traced back to a lack of food, sleep, or cell phone. As long as her tummy is full and her naps are uninterrupted, she’s quite likeable.

Having a fabulous daughter has made it easy to feel like I am a decent parent who has this whole mothering thing under control. After all, perfect child, perfect parent, right? Well, okay, I’ve never thought that I was perfect, but I at least felt like I was competent. That is, until Friday.

Friday began on a positive note. I took some time off from work to take Brooklyn to the doctor where tests revealed that her eardrums are now vibrating and her hearing is dramatically improved. Elated, I gave myself a silent pat on the back for being diligent with the medicine, and observant enough to pick up on Brooklyn’s hearing loss in the first place. You’re a good Mom with a lovely daughter.

Afterwards, I brought Brooklyn back home for some lunch before heading back to work. I made her a bottle but somehow inserted the plastic lining wrong, so the milk leaked out everywhere, positively drenching Brooklyn, the table, the floor, and myself. (I’m a poor bottle maker—usually I give Brooklyn the real McCoy, so I lack experience.) Bad Mommy.

While I ran for a dishtowel to clean up the mess, Brooklyn reached for the leaky bottle that I had intentionally placed out of reach. Somehow the booster seat slipped off the chair, with her strapped in it. I was less than an arm’s reach away, but I didn’t catch her in time. I can’t tell you what a horrible feeling it was to pick up the high chair, knowing my daughter had just fallen on her face. I still cringe at the memory of it. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared as a mother, not knowing what I would find. The silence before the scream is the most terrible noise you’ve never heard. In that moment, I would have done anything to trade places with my hurting child.

Fortunately, most of the damage was limited to a bloody lip, and Brooklyn was quickly consoled by “the real McCoy.” I stripped her down, changed her diaper (it’s not often that it’s soaked outside but dry inside), threw the milky clothes in the wash, got her dressed again, gave her some Tylenol, wiped her tears, changed my clothes, and sprinted over to the sitter’s, as I was now running late for work.

Still recovering from the recent trauma, I took a moment to talk with our sitter Sarah, who asked how Brooklyn handles stairs--(her sixteen month old Nathan loves to navigate his way up and down.) I had scarcely told Sarah how Brooklyn had fallen once when bang, I heard the thud of head hitting linoleum. Sarah said, “Let’s make that twice.” In the thirty seconds I had been talking, Brooklyn had attempted to follow her friend Nathan up the stairs, slipped, and fallen backwards. Once again, I cradled my bruised babe in my arms and dried her tears (I skipped the Tylenol since she was already well dosed.)

Sitting in the car on the way to work, I wondered how I managed to do so much damage all within the space of thirty minutes. I had looked forward all week to spending some quality time with my daughter, yet wondered if I wasn’t more of a health hazard than a help. Somebody’s going to call the child abuse hotline.

It took Jason all evening to convince me that despite our lunchtime trauma, I really was a decent mother capable of caring for my child. I almost believed him until 6:00 a.m. when I was startled awake after dozing off during an early morning nursing. The cause? Another thud--Brooklyn had just rolled out of bed.

So, out of concern for my child’s safety and well-being, I am issuing a call for a competent mother to care for a very cute child. This mother must never allow my child to fall out of high chairs, slip down the stairs, or roll out of bed. This mother must convince her to eat her vegetables and put the bananas in her mouth instead of feeling them squish between her fingers. This mother must build forts, color sidewalks, slide down slides, and swing in swings. But most of all, this mother must love my daughter as much as I do. Competent or not, I don’t believe anyone else is up to the job.