Monday, December 24, 2007

This holiday season we had the wonderful experience of making gingerbread houses together as a family. It was really quite fascinating to see how the same raw materials of graham crackers, icing, and candy transformed to reflect our unique personalities.

My sister-in-law, the culinary goddess, naturally created a picture perfect winter wonderland that hinted towards her love of European culture.

Jason, our resident architect, whipped out this incredible, Frank Lloyd Wright-esque model that has since served as inspiration for the design of our future dream house. He aspires to run the home off of solar power. I'll be happy as long as we have a dishwasher.

As for me, well, I'd like to say that my model reflects my love of the outdoors and camping. The truth is that I couldn't construct anything more structurally complex than a tent.

As for the secret within the outhouse, however, it definitely reflected my current obsession with potty training... Fortunately, we've finally had success.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Dorky Love

Even though our dear daughters may cause us many sleepless nights and harried days, they have also taught us so much about love and forgiveness. Lately Brooklyn has become the "peacemaker" in our home. If Jason and I ever get short in our conversations with each other, Brooklyn immediately jumps in with, "Mommy, Daddy, I'm sorry." She has learned the incredible power of a sincere apology.

The other day Jason and I got into a rather immature tiff in which I tactlessly employed the ultimate of all insults by telling him "You're a dork" (sounds like an elementary school playground, huh.) Pride damaged, Jason responded in kind by saying, "No, you're a dork." All of a sudden Brooklyn stands up in her chair and announces, "I'm the dork!" We couldn't help but stop and laugh at ourselves. With our two-year old being the only one acting like a responsible grown-up, it's been a good reminder to always use the language of love.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Talia's Howdy

This is our first attempt at blogging a video, so hopefully it works. This is a short clip of Talia saying her first word, "hi." (She speaks better dressed as a pumpkin.)

Happy Halloween!

Here are some pictures of our Halloween adventures out here in Illinois. As you can see, we like to grow our pumpkins as big as our kids are blond...

Talia's First Birthday!

It's hard to believe that our little Talia is already a year old! In case you're wondering how she enjoyed her first birthday, we'll let these pictures speak for themselves.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Toasted Toys

So, it's been an awfully long time since I've blogged--my apologies. Solar Decathlon ( makes the best scapegoat, since Jason's involvement as the project manager for UIUC has kept him scurrying from sunup to sundown--and then some.

Jason has been out of town most of the week setting up Illinois's solar-powered house on the National Mall in Washington DC. Even though it's been lonely, I was starting to feel like I had this single-mommy thing kind of under control. After all, the last months have provided some good opportunities to practice.

And then this evening happened. Around 6:00 pm, I strode confidently into the house and freed Talia from the double stroller where she had twisted herself completely around so as to be able to better poke Brooklyn in the eyes. Brooklyn decided to remain in the stroller (whether for protection, or simply because she was too distracted screaming for a graham cracker, I'm not sure.) I went straight to the kitchen, pulled a pizza out of the freezer, turned the oven on to preheat, and thought, ta da, dinner is served. (I even thought ahead enough to buy the deluxe pizza to ensure we're getting enough veggies in our diet...)

And then the smell started... Now, you've got to understand. Our house has lots of smells. Unfortunately, many of them are not good. No, no happy aromas of freshly-baked bread in this Wheeler house, and if you smell chocolate-chip cookies, it means that Kara's had a really bad day and is feeling desperate. No, most of the odors in our house are directly attributable to the plethora of stinky diapers (including Talia's recent poopy diaper that had Brooklyn's bright orange earplug embedded in it, but that's a story for another day.) So, when a strange smell started to come from the kitchen, I didn't think much of it, and blamed it on the garbage disposal.

Until I opened the oven... When what to my wondering eyes should I see, but a green tambourine, and two DVDs! Talk about a surprise. The house filled with smoke, but I could still make out the melted plastic dripping from the DVD cases down into the broiler. Brooklyn came over, peeked in, and looking extremely guilty, said, "Sorry Mommy."

It wasn't until everything had cooled off that I noticed that the roundish green thing protruding from the tambourine wasn't bludgeoning plastic, but the remnants of a once large bouncy ball. The ball and DVDs were toast (literally), but the instrument came out relatively unscathed. I guess it just goes to show the truth in the song I learned as a child: All things shall perish from under the sky, but music alone shall live, never to die.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Beginning with B

Being as Brooklyn begins with B, we've begun basic alphabet instruction by bypassing A.

Treasure Hunt! Can you find a boat, bird, ball, big brown bear, blue blanket, bug, basket, bus, button, block, baby book, betcetera, betcetera, betcetera...

Blond Brooklyn feeds her baby a bottle.

Blue-eyed Talia bites the brown box.

Binky, binky, binky!
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More Memorial Day Pictures

Here are a few more pictures from our camping trip. In this one, Kara shares a four leaf clover that she and Brooklyn discovered on the banks of the Mississippi.

Brooklyn enjoyed directing us as to where we should sit in the campground.

And here's Talia, all worn out.

A Memorable Memorial Day

This past Memorial day was spent camping on the Mississippi River with the Andrus grandparents. Despite a bit of rain, you can see that we had a glorious time. Here are the girls with NomiAnn and Grandpa Kay.
Brooklyn enjoyed our trip to Whiteys ice cream in the quad cities. Yum! However, I think our homemade shaker ball ice cream was even better.

NomiAnn gives Talia a new look at the world.
Yippee! Isn't life great?
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Monday, May 21, 2007

Four Years and a Family of Four

Once again, here are some updated pictures from the Wheeler household. Life is gaining a touch of sanity now that Jason is done with his architecture classes for the semester, although he is taking an intensive Spanish literature class over the next four weeks. Solar Decathlon keeps him busy most days, although he tries hard to make time for his three girls. Kara would like to enjoy sleeping in now that early-morning seminary is over, but Brooklyn and Talia are early risers.

Here's Brooklyn, smiling happily at a picnic. Like her parents, Brooklyn loves puzzles and being outdoors.

And here's Talia, smiling happily at her big sis. Talia's new found loves are sitting, rolling all over the place, and devouring paper.

Fortunately, Talia has also been introduced to rice cereal, green beans, and squash over the past few weeks. While she liked the squash, she successfully sprayed the green beans from wall to wall.

And this is the cute bed and breakfast where Kara and Jason stayed for their fourth anniversary, thanks to kind and courageous Uncle Ben and Aunt Christy who took on the girls for the night. We had a fabulous time!
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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Doll Who Pooped

Here at the Wheeler household we've begun the unenviable task of potty-training. Since that moment, our conversations seldom progress beyond the topics of poopies and lollipops (the reward). I thought we'd share our most recent adventure in the treacherous realm between diapers and panties.

So last week I walked into our bedroom and was horrified to find Brooklyn standing buck naked, peering down at a chocolate brown poop on our beige carpet. Next to the poop was her baby doll, likewise having been stripped of any all raiment. Hearing my gasp (and impending scold), Brooklyn looks at me and explains that the baby doll did it.

I'd post a picture, but it wasn't pretty...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

A few pictures of our girls at their best and worst moments:

Brooklyn was absolutely terrified of the candles on her birthday cake. However, after finally settling down and realizing that her mommy wasn't about to burn up, she downed more than her fair share of ice cream cake and loved opening presents. Now she regularly looks up at us and says with imploring eyes, "Happy Birthday Party?", desperately hoping that she'll have another birthday within the next day or two...

Talia's First Smile

Talia first graced us with her beautiful smile on Christmas Day. We thought you might enjoy a picture.