Category Archives: jack henry

The 3 Piggy Opera

It’s a kindergarten tradition at my boys’ school to have the kindergartners rehearse (for weeks!) and perform the 3 Piggy Opera in the spring. Today was Jack Henry’s big day!

He was playing the role of the Brick Pig, and he nailed it, as you’ll see in this short, amateur video shot by yours truly, who was also foolishly trying to balance her camera in her other hand.

The other boys were NOT interested in solos at this age at all, so it surprised me that he wanted it. I was so proud :)

i love when he spots me in the audience!

i love when he spots me in the audience!

this expression...

this expression…

post-play hug for mom.  and proof that i can barely still lift him!

post-play hug for mom. and proof that i can barely still lift him!

—-

This morning, as he was getting dressed for the play, he started to cry. I asked what was wrong, and told him he looked great.

“It’s just…it’s dance party day* and I don’t want to wear a tie and my Chucks!”

Understood. Change of clothes for after the performance made everything just fine.

*afternoon celebration for good behavior

A Little Catch Up

This is long, I know. But it’s real, and everyone tells me I’m going to want to remember these times, so I know I have to write it down or it’s gone. That said, the last 4 days have looked a little like this:

Thursday
3:30am: I am awakened by strong thunderstorms that eventually turn into a tornado siren going off at…
5:30am: Wake boys and gather everyone in the basement. Turn on TV and realize that the tornado is nowhere near us, and send everyone back to bed. Which is kinda dumb because…
6:15am: it’s time to wake up for the day.
ALL DAY LONG: rotation of storms/hail/quiet for a few hours/more storms, knowing that very strong front is on it’s way around 7pm.
6:45pm: Tornado sirens go off well ahead of the impending storm…it’s still 45 minutes away, but we return to the basement, and stay there through…
8:20pm: seems like it’s over. Our front yard looks like this:

that's black mulch under there.

that’s black mulch under there.


8:30pm: boys are settled in their rooms
8:31pm: siren goes off again. Everyone to the basement.
8:40pm: all clear. Go back to bed.
8:50pm: Jack Henry is scared (for the first time in his life, I think) of all the sirens and storms, and doesn’t want to sleep alone. Executive decision made by me that he will instead go sleep in Bennett’s new room with him in the double bed. This is greeted by B with far less resistance than expected…he’s probably relieved he’s not alone either.
8:51pm: Luke decides he’ll just sleep on the floor in B’s room, too. Everyone, miraculously, just goes to sleep.

Friday
Normal day, really.
7:30pm: pick up coffee for Matt and a latte for me (serious turning point in my life: I can handle drinking a latte now despite my life-long absolute hatred of all things coffee!) at Starbucks drive-thru. Barista calls me sweetheart twice, which makes the 2 boys in my car giggle, and B ask, “seriously, why would he do that?”.
7:45pm: Matt’s mom and dad come into town to join us for part of the weekend! We meet at Luke’s game in the Chesterfield valley. Oh, it’s approximately 40 degrees and windy, making it feel like less than that.
9:50pm: game over. Absolutely frozen despite layers of winter coats, scarves, and blankets.
10:45pm: boys in bed. Time for drinking wine and chatting with Ron and Jo.

Saturday
1:00am: go to bed. Yeah. We stayed up kinda late but it was worth it.
6:20am: alarm goes off. I say to Matt, “Can you even imagine how tired we’ll be when we get to come home tonight at 10:30?”
7:30am: out the door headed to Forest Park for the Read, Right and Run Marathon, in a caravan with B’s friend Ty and his mom. For the first and only time (because it’s K-5), all of our boys are runners! 6000 kids are running (split into 2 groups) this year, and the organization of the event has clearly gotten away from them.
9:45am: boys finally nearing the starting point, so we head to watch near the finish line.
10:15am: we’ve seen Luke and Jack Henry cross the finish line…but where is Bennett?
10:30am: MASS CHAOS is the only way I can think to describe trying to get to the meeting spot for the boys after the race. I finally think to text my friend Robin, who was standing across the street from us, to see if she had seen B cross the finish line…the answer is yes, AND it was before Luke (crazy…I had no idea he could keep pace with Luke!)
11:10am: finally back to the van with everyone we came there with.

my 3 medalists!

my 3 medalists!


11:45am: pick up lunch at Which Wich, get home in bad traffic, eat, change, B opens his birthday gifts from his grandparents, and it’s out the door!
cool gifts from nana jo and papa ron!

cool gifts from nana jo and papa ron!


1:00pm: B and Matt to the ballpark. SIDENOTE: B’s team is comprised of 3 2nd-grade boys and 9 3rd graders, and they are playing in a league of 4th graders this year.
1:30pm: everyone else leaves – Ron, Jo and Luke to the ballpark, JH and me 30 minute away to his practice
2:00pm: B’s 1st game starts, JH’s practice starts
2:10pm: I get a quick jog in before…
3:00pm: pick up JH, head to ballpark
4:00pm: 2nd game starts
6:00pm: Ron and Jo head back to Effingham; we get dinner at BWW with some families from B’s team
8:00pm: game 3 of the day begins. Hard-fought, but the 3rd loss of the day.
10:15pm: home. Everyone to bed…but not before Bennett does his daily push-ups. Not even kidding…this kid just played baseball all day (and ran a short race in the morning), and he won’t let a day lapse without doing his push-ups. That’s dedication, and I wish I could say I was that devoted to keeping myself strong!
10:30pm: that should say “everyone to bed except the mama”, who has baseball pants to scrub and muddy coats to wash.

Sunday
12:15am: I go to bed.
8:30am: L, JH and me to church; Matt and B to the ballpark.
11:00am: all of us at the ballpark. B’s team loses game 4 of their tournament seeding games, making them the 3 seed (of 3 teams).
11:45am: celebrate B’s birthday with his teammates! B is grouchy, sore, and hangry (hungry+angry, it’s a real thing, especially in this family)
12:00pm: lunch at McAlister’s, during which time Matt tells me that Bennett’s baseball pants were filthy BEFORE the game even started because of the warm-up pop flies he’d been throwing him. I could’ve done without that information.
1:00pm: B’s mood has improved significantly after lunch and a couple of stern lectures about family and sacrifice yadda yadda
2:00pm: game 5 of the weekend). Truly, in terms of the tournament, the only game that was a must-win (to get to the championship game. And win they did! They kill it, and Bennett has an awesome game at the plate: 2 huge hits (a single and a double) and 3 RBIs.

i love watching this kid run the bases, and his dad coach him all the way around!

i love watching this kid run the bases, and his dad coach him all the way around!


ready to hit a double

ready to hit a double


batted in by the next batter after his double

batted in by the next batter after his double


4:00pm: championship game starts. They try hard, but lose 11-1, and are so proud of their 2nd place finish, especially in a league where they’re the youngest by far!
5:00pm: I bring JH and L, who are dirty and tired, home from the fields to shower and get ready for a sitter. I’m headed to small group at 6:00pm.

Matt and B come home at 7:30 and crash for the night, I get home at 8:45pm and our whole house is sound asleep by 9:30pm. I’m pretty sure that hasn’t happened since we had a newborn in the house.

Today, these kids are exhausted after their first full baseball weekend of the year, and so are Matt and I! Even having it be his birthday couldn’t get B up and moving very quickly this morning. We’re looking forward to a simple celebration tonight, and more sleep.

JH Loses a Tooth!

Whew…MIA blogger here. Between redoing our guest room to become Bennett’s room (pictures coming soon!) and spring break, and the incredible amount of time Matt and I invested in watching the first season of Friday Night Lights on DVD, writing time has been non-existent.

Seems the easiest way to ease back into blogging is to do a little milestone post.

A couple of weeks ago, Jack Henry lost his first tooth! He was SO excited to have a loose tooth, and he worked on it quite a bit. He even had me try to pull it several times but never wanted me to pull that hard.

there it is...moved way over to the right from its original location!

there it is…moved way over to the right from its original location!

IMG_1576

Until, of course, the inevitable “it’s so loose I can’t eat anything” stage got here. Then, he asked me again to try to pull it. And on the second tug, I did! (reminder: I still HATE pulling teeth, but I hate dangling-out-of-the-gums teeth more, so I suck it up and do it.)

We ran to the bathroom to rinse, because unfortunately it was a bit of a bleeder. Which, of course, I know is normal…he was a little freaked out, kinda giggling/almost crying for a couple of minutes while rinsing and spitting. And then his face turned an all-too-familiar-to-me shade of gray, so I swooped him up (thank God I work out with weights!) and brought him to the playroom floor, where he kept himself from passing out.

I suggested texting Dad from the iPad while I got him some lemonade to celebrate, and that helped him come around pretty quickly. I’m praying this was just rookie nervousness and not a sign of things to come.

Here he is, minus one!

and there is that big gap!

and there is that big gap!

I can’t wait to see how big his permanent teeth are!

Making Me Smile Today…

It should be noted that a mere 19 minutes after posting this to the blog, the iPad was taken away indefinitely due to how rudely the boys were treating each other. Figures.

1. My boys’ school. It’s just such an amazing place for them to learn and grow. I’m happy I get to be involved there.

2a. The Subway worker thinks it’s weird that I’ll gladly eat an egg white sandwich at lunchtime. She was new…I’ll give her a break for thinking it’s weird AND not knowing how to make a sandwich. She’ll learn.

2b. That an egg white sandwich sounds good to me. A little over a year ago, I wouldn’t have considered that a decent breakfast/lunch choice.

2c. Wearing new jeans.

3. Jack Henry is so pumped for his 100th day celebration tomorrow. He doesn’t know what they’re doing because it’s a surprise, but “It’s going to be good. I can feel it.” was what he told me.

4. Watching Luke and Bennett take on leadership roles at school. Every day, B and his friend Ty walk the kindergartners who are car-riders down to the lobby of the school. Luke has several roles, but his daily bus safety patrol is a favorite.

5. #4 makes me especially happy because, you know, they don’t always show me their best side…I’m the one who gets to constantly ask them to stop talking about farts and remind them 100 times to brush their teeth.

6. JH’s Cardinal-fan-summertime snowman project at school. Adorable.

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7. The boys’ snacktime discussion of how good the special effects are in Back to the Future, “since it was from 1985 and stuff.” Also, that they call each other McFly.

8. Calories left at the end of the day = a glass of wine while sitting on the couch with Matt watching Nashville tonight.

Little Bits

None of these necessitate a post of their own, but they are all little tidbits of daily life around here that I want recorded.

-Whether the team is good or bad, the boys never miss an Illini basketball game. Game time looks like this around here:

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last week’s fireside pizza picnic at game time

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sunday afternoon game

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littlest illini fan likes to have something else to do during the game, but still be in the same room as everyone.

I love it. I love that they’ll always share this bond and memory of their childhood. And that Matt is always alongside them for this.

- Bennett and Jack Henry have long had an oil-and-water relationship for the most part. There are glimpses of happy moments like this one…

20140126-143241.jpg

b can be such a sweet and kind teacher/helper.

…but usually, they’re bickering or picking at each other. Like any time they’re together.

They’ve been sharing a room for 18 months now, and surprisingly, there really aren’t any problems with this arrangement. In fact, bedtime is the one time of day that they seem to actually like each other. Almost every night for the past month now, there is a lot of giggling and whispering coming from their room at bedtime.

I’ve admitted on here before that I am not a patient person when bedtime rolls around. Usually, I’m feeling very much like I just want them to go to bed, so that I can have a little bit of quiet before I want to go to bed (yes, that’s selfish. But it’s also true, which is why I’m saying it.).

Lately though, I’ve fought the urge to shush them as they lay there laughing. It’s the only time of day they’re friends. Even though it kind of makes me crazy, I need them to like each other.

So, future Bennett and Jack Henry: I sincerely hope that this helped your relationship. Know that I decided that it’s worth the 15 minutes of lost sleep.

- I love weekends during our baseball off-season. They’re just so chill and fun and we get stuff done around the house. It’s fabulous. Of course, I love baseball season, too. But managing our calendar during that time just gets more than a little crazy.

I will need to see this in writing in April, when I’m wondering if some sense of calm will ever return to our house.

-I love our church. Being part of a community is so important.

Happy Sunday!

From Really Picky to Much Less Picky.

I wish I could say with all sincerity “from really picky to not at all!” in the title, but that would be a lie.

And per rule #5 on the family chalkboard, we don’t tell lies. Also, note to self: learn how to letter in chalk. We’ll go ahead and call that a 2014 goal, since I haven’t set any yet.

photo 3

We still have some fairly picky eaters in this house.

And they come by it honestly; my dad called me “Picky Nikki” for years, and I still have a few food aversions (but really, who doesn’t?). However, I mostly overcame my pickiness by high-school age, and I am SO happy that my kids are overcoming it much earlier than I did. Because life is too short not to eat good food and try new things, right?

Last weekend, I thought of a salad I used to order at a restaurant called Cheddar’s, which we don’t have in the St. Louis area. They make this awesome Grilled Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad that I love. I used to make it years ago for Matt and me for dinner sometimes, but along the way (“the way” being several years of children who don’t eat salad), it was forgotten.

I got all excited, thinking about making it for dinner. I meal-planned on Sunday (the week ALWAYS goes better when this happens), and put it on Monday night. I gave the boys a heads-up that we were having this, and the older two were actually excited. That’s the moment I realized it: we have come really, really far.

—–

Probably 2 years ago, I started introducing very basic Romaine lettuce salads as a side at dinner. It started as a couple of bites loaded with dressing gagged down by the boys (then 8, 6 and 4ish), and turned into a regular part of our weeknight dinners over time. They all eat a side salad with a sensible amount of dressing with absolutely no problem now, but all prefer the salad fairly plain: lettuce, spinach (they do best if it’s chopped up and not whole leaves, but that’s fine), a little cheese, maybe some croutons.

We introduce lots of things like this: alongside other things they really like, with a “try a bite or two” rule. I realize there are some foods they’ll never like (Luke STILL can’t eat green beans without gagging), and that’s fine, but repeated exposure to so many things has meant expanded palates and more dinner choices for us.

Jack Henry is easily still the pickiest, but I have to say, he’ll readily try almost anything new. He doesn’t often get a new “favorite” from those tries, but we press on. Bennett is probably the most adventurous eater and frankly, has the biggest appetite…he tries things and generally likes more new things than the others. Luke isn’t far behind Bennett; a tad less adventurous, but occasionally surprising us, like asking for shrimp while on vacation last summer (I eat exactly 0 seafood; Matt loves it, so Luke ate some of Matt’s dinner a time or two).

—–

Back to Monday night’s dinner salad, which consisted of:
Romaine lettuce
Baby spinach
Shredded parmesan cheese
Rotisserie chicken breast
Cooked rotini pasta (penne or farfalle would be fine, too)
Dressing
Croutons

I told the boys that I’d pile everything on their plate but not mix it up, in case they’d prefer the parts of the salad plain. The 2 older boys sampled the Caesar dressing and wanted that; Jack Henry stuck to his favorite, Zia’s. Luke and Bennett promptly mixed their salads on their plates (we have some these from Nana Jo, and we use them ALL the time! Fun, right?) and ate them like grown humans eat a salad: all mixed up. Jack Henry picked at the components of his, which is fine by me, since he ate his chicken, some of the pasta, and a good amount of lettuce/spinach.

do you love the leftover jimmy john's napkins?

do you love the leftover jimmy john’s napkins? classy.

yum. i was so happy that there were leftovers the next day!

yum. i was so happy that there were leftovers the next day!

On to Tuesday night’s dinner: soup in a bread bowl. The boys used to HATE soup, so I’ve always always served it with some kind of bread. I feel like it softens the blow of a food they don’t like, you know? Well, over time, they’ve gotten to the point of liking a couple of different soups, so I thought bread bowls would be fun. The older 2 loved it…Bennett had seconds on the soup! JH still doesn’t like soup, so he picked at the parts of his he liked, and of course, loved the bread bowl. No kid has ever loved carbs like Jack Henry, I tell you.

And Luke made a pronouncement that I’ll not likely forget: “Mom, you’re right about trying things a lot of times. What’s that called? Repeated exposure? Yeah. It really works.”

Sage parenting advice from the 11-year-old, y’all.

Tonight is steak fajita night (smart shoppers: check your grocery’s meat section for meat that needs to be sold that day…Schnucks has a marked-down section, usually 25% off, where the meat still looks great but just needs to be eaten in the next day or two or frozen immediately.). They won’t eat the vegetables on their fajitas, so they’ll have another vegetable on the side. I’m fine with that, provided they try a bite of a onion or pepper. That’s all I ask.

So if you’re out there wondering if your picky toddler will EVER eat anything normal, I tell you:
1. Stay the course. This can get better.
2. Continue to introduce new or not-favorite things. Repeat exposure is the only way this is going to work. (or, seeing a role model eat the food you want them to eat; peer pressure is a powerful thing)
3. Don’t give in just because it’s easy…you’re in charge here! Pick your battles, but your kid isn’t going to starve if he/she chooses not to eat the dinner you’re serving. You aren’t a short-order cook.

Hang in there, friends! You can do this.

Pretending Like This Isn’t Happening.

Bennett threw up on Saturday morning. When we made it to Tuesday morning with no one else getting sick, I’ll admit: I thought it was over.

I fully realize now that was a bit presumptuous of me.

For tonight at dinner, Jack Henry threw up right in his dinner plate. (Mark that down as a first, I’m pretty sure.) This is something I will not soon forget, nor do I think I will be able to eat the meal I was serving tonight again for a long time.

I felt so bad for him…they’re just so sad and scared and grossed out when they’re this young.

Not kidding, though, and this is a true testament to what is important to him, 5 minutes after barfing he asked, “can I still have dessert tonight?”

he's just so cute and lovable.

he’s just so cute and lovable.

Yeah. That’s a no.

Now that he’s sleeping comfortably, I’m going to do what I do best in these situations: pour a glass of wine, sit in front of the fire with the laptop and daydream on vrbo.com about where we might vacation next summer. This seems a totally reasonable response to me.