Friday, November 27, 2009

Got Milk?

Every family has its traditions. In my family, my father traditionally gives each of his children and grandchildren a unique nickname. Now here's the twist-up: all of the nicknames must be dairy related. Growing up, my sister was always Eggnog and I was Milkweed. (While milkweed may not technically be a dairy product, it keeps the general theme.) Brooklyn has been dubbed Buttermilk, and Talia ReddiWip. Naturally when Eli was born, he also needed a nickname. At dinner one evening, my Dad casually mentioned that he'd spent some time in the dairy aisle, pondering names. Despite its French flair, his initial suggestion of Yoplait was immediately shot down. With a slight smile, he then presented the name of Cheesestick.

Jason suspects that Papa Kay had Cheesestick in mind as a name all along. Perhaps someone "Anonymous" can confirm or refute this suspicion. Either way, welcome to the family, Cheesestick.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Eli Greets the Day


Good Morning!

Scissor Saga

Our little Talia loves to cut with scissors. I thought these pictures of her and her Daddy working side-by-side were adorable.

Apparently she also likes to cut hair...

Poor Brooklyn! With a cowlick like that, I guess she should be grateful she has long hair.

A Bee for Bashing

The Wheeler blogosphere has been pretty quiet lately, although not due to a lack of goings-on. Up until Friday, Jason was supremely busy preparing for an architectural design review, leaving me to entertain the wee ones from dawn until dusk. When they crashed at night, I happily crashed along with them, usually beating them to dreamland.

Now that his real work is done, Jason has embarked on a new design project in the under-explored medium of paper mache--namely, a pinata bee. The Thanksgiving pinata has become an annual Wheeler tradition ever since the debut of the pink pinata pig. Knowing my husband's commitment to quality artwork, I should have known this wasn't going to be a whip-together project. So far, we've been to three stores searching for the right color crepe paper, and will probably have to go to one more since the shades of yellow don't match. Jason glued together ten pieces of cardstock for the stinger so that it would "have the right taper." We both worked on the project until well after midnight last night, and he was up at 4:00 am gluing crepe paper squares once more. As you can imagine, the girls gladly helped out for a while, but their attention has long since wandered. I'm certain, however, that we'll be able to pique their interest once more when the candy starts spilling out. As for myself, I might start weeping to see our beautiful bee broken to bits. Or better yet, I may be first in line to give it a whack for causing so much trouble...

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Our Talia Lily turned three today. It's hard to believe another year has passed already--kids should come equipped with "pause" buttons! I confess that I'm grateful Eli's a boy so that Talia can remain my baby girl. It's hard to imagine a more affectionate child. She is so full of hugs, kisses, and cuddles that they literally explode out of her. Her slight frame just can't hold all of the love in--it tumbles exuberantly out, smothering whatever crosses her path. I find it kind of ironic that she gets in the most trouble for this excess of affection. After all, puppies and babies alike can get strangled by even the most well-intentioned of bear hugs. Still, I learn so much by watching how deeply she cares. My day simply can't begin without a kiss from my Tally Wally Doodle, despite the inevitable smear from her constantly schnootzy nose.

For Talia's birthday, we held a caterpillar/butterfly party. In some ways, she reminds me of the very hungry caterpillar, greedily gobbling up life. Wild with enthusiasm, she jumps into everything without missing a moment. Constantly in motion, I usually see her as a blur of music and dance. Yet every once in a while she slows down enough for me to realize that like the caterpillar, she's morphing before my eyes. There are moments when I am stunned by her beauty. I realize that the creeping infant of three years ago has turned into a precious little girl; she, like the butterfly, has wings to fly free.

I hope you enjoy these photos from our party. I think I'll let the pictures tell their own story.

Happy Birthday, Talia!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Spontaneous Memories

I'm a snuggler. I really enjoy cuddling, even though it means I shamelessly hog the bed. Last weekend, however, I set a new record for snuggling. I nestled into Jason closer than ever before, not just because he's such a handsome feller, but because my toes were turning into otter pops. Brrr, shivering, freezing, actually-happy-all-three-kids-are-in-bed-with-you cold.

That's what happens when you go camping in November. After a very wet season, Jason peeked at the weather forecast last Thursday and saw that we were expecting sunshine. No better time to go camping! In a spontaneous, last minute decision, we packed all our gear and left the next morning.

We headed east to Shades State Park in Indiana, close to Turkey Run. We had the whole place practically to ourselves, probably because the regular season ended the day before our arrival, meaning that there was no running water.

We talked some great friends into joining us for the adventure. Here are the love birds, Bruce and Brittney:

The other happy couple, Jenny and Aaron Hill:

Handsome Hill son #1:

Handsome Hill son #2:

And here are our family campers.
Brooklyn (who obviously had a great time--she considers herself to be a Girl Scout-in-training):

Talia (camping's just not the same without a dirty face):

The handsome hunk we call Dad:

And Mom, still toting Baby Eli on her belly:

Because many of us had Saturday afternoon obligations, our camping trip wasn't very long. We may have spent more time packing and unpacking than we actually did roughing it in the great outdoors. Still, it was worth it. Somehow camping allows you to pack tons of vivid memories memories into just a short period of time.

Here are a few of the things I will remember:
- firewood that didn't want to light
- dutch oven chicken pot pie (definitely worth the wait)
- banana boats and smores
- brazen raccoons that stole the marshmallows and came back for more
- campfire smoke that followed the unsuspecting
- hot chocolate and apple cider in the morning
- parachute games
- climbing the ladders at Turkey Run

The only sad moment was when Brittney burnt her hand while pouring boiling water.

Tooth brushing is kind of hard with blistered fingers. But hey, Brittney can smile through anything!

Some more favorite pictures:

Thanks, Jason, for the spontaneous suggestion that made lasting memories.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

From Sour to Sweet

Two times this week I've overheard Jason talking in his sleep--about sour cream! Maybe I need to bathe Eli more often...

Speaking of baths, here a few pictures:

Easy Prey

As I've followed my friend's Tanzanian adventures, I've been reminded of how very savage our world actually is. I nearly cried while reading about a baby hippo who was attacked by a male, only hours after birth, when the mother wouldn't mate. Lion cubs eaten by hyenas--it's a dangerous world, even for those at the top of the food chain. Living in my small town in the middle of the cornfields, it's easy to become detached from the harsh realities of nature. And yet, I'm reminded that we still must fight to protect our little ones from predators of a different sort. How beautiful will be the day when the lion finally lies with the lamb.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Mountains We Climb

Overall, I love my life as a Mom. Despite the sticky messes, nothing beats the smiles and cuddles. Yet on particularly rough days, my mind drifts and imagines what my life might be like sans enfants. Yesterday I got online and discovered what a dear girlfriend from years past is up to: hiking Mount Kilimanjaro.

Kinda makes my mountain of laundry seem dull...

Doo doo

I wonder what a stranger would think if they overheard Talia's following conversational tidbit...
Brooklyn, I need some doo doos to play with, please.

Doesn't every family play with doo doo? What do you mean, we're strange? (BTW, Talia's request was quite polite--three cheers for socialization.)

Placed into context, this conversation isn't quite as bizarre as it seems. Talia is actually asking for some doudous, the French word for cuddly, stuffed animals. She's only incorporated a few French words, like la lune and regarde, into her everyday American. I find it rather amusing that this should be one of them...

Never Say Never

Nearly half a lifetime ago, I failed my driving test. I didn't fail very many exams during my high school years, but this was an out-and-out bomb! Since that time, I've assuaged my wounded pride by the fact that I've *never* been pulled over.

Until now. I completely missed the school zone while driving the carpool to preschool this morning, noticing only as I passed the police officer who immediately whipped his car around to follow me. What a sinking feeling! Fortunately, he took pity on me after peeking in on the three kids and screaming baby. As our preschool friend told her Mom, I didn't get taken to jail--just a warning. Needless to say, I've learned my lesson: never say never.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Halloween this year was fantastic. The weather was clear, and we were finally healthy enough to go out. NomiAnn and Papa Kay drove all the way from Nebraska to trick-or-treat with us, and we had a great time.

I may be kind of partial, but the cutest trick-or-treaters were:

A Pink Princess

A Pink Poodle

and A Pink and Gray Mouse

Of course, our adorable little mouse doubled as a green dinosaur being held by a mad scientist.

Here are our trick-or-treaters with the mad scientist and her husband, the glad scientist.

And here are the merry munchkins with some very happy grandparents. Tremendous kudos go out to NomiAnn who made the amazing princess and poodle costumes. Thanks Mom! You're the best.

Out on the search for goodies.

The best part of Halloween--sorting through the loot.

Eli was festive, even beneath his costume.

Here's one last pic of Eli--on top of the kitchen table, of course! Strangely enough, this has become a nightly ritual at our house. We've discovered that our grumpy little man gazes contently if we set him in the middle of the action. Jason keeps threatening to put him on a platter and stick an apple in his mouth! I can only imagine what the neighbors must think...

Hope everyone else's Halloween was happy as well!