Category Archives: pictures

Life Skills 101

“So, Mom, did you know that there was like a TOTAL CASCADING WATERFALL OF MILK off the counter this morning? Right here. My sock got some on it, but I still wore it all day.”

This was a conversation I had with Bennett this evening while he was working on making dinner for himself and his brothers. It came up because as he was making grilled pj&j, he dropped glob of jelly on his sock, and I told him to just take it off since it was almost time to shower anyway.

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And actually, I did not know about the milk waterfall. I was upstairs getting ready for the day, and B and Luke were eating breakfast together (Matt and Jack Henry were already on their way to baseball).

They’d done a pretty good job of cleaning it up, but you know, didn’t do it in a way that would truly pass Mom-inspection. So, I pulled out my newest trick: telling him I was going to teach him a Life Skill, instead of correcting what wasn’t done right.

—–

“Life Skill” has become a frequently-used phrase around here this summer. A couple of months ago, I realized that there are SO MANY THINGS – all the things – that a kid needs to know and know how to do. It’s not like you can just put them in a book and have them read it. It’s things that pop up in day-to-day life that make you think, “hey, a kid needs to know this.” Maybe I should make a list.

Like being able to take a few bucks into a Quik Trip and buy a bag of ice (don’t worry, I sent 2 of them in together). Or how to do a load of laundry start to finish, or use the dishwasher. Or how to go up to a concession stand with your water bottle and politely ask for a refill, and say thank you when they give it back to you. Or how to order in a restaurant, giving the waitress your attention.

Or, figuring out how to put the dishes away that you can’t reach.

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—–

So this evening, instead of correcting the cleanup that was done in the morning, I said, “Hey, buddy, I’ve got a Life Skill to teach you. Remember that little ant problem we’ve had in the kitchen? Well, ants like leftover food that’s on the floor. And if you don’t wipe up a spill like milk with a wet paper towel, they’ll find it.”

Easy peasy. Doesn’t sound judgmental. Problem solved.

WHY IN THE WORLD DID I NOT THINK OF THIS APPROACH BEFORE NOW?

—–

My favorite Life Skill teaching happened this morning though. Bennett, Luke and I were in the van on the way to Jack Henry’s last baseball game of the summer season. I had a bracelet I couldn’t put on myself, so I reached my arm behind me and told B what to do, then said, “You know, this a good skill for you to have when you’re older. Your girlfriend or wife might sometime need help with this.”

Bennett’s immediate response: “Well, the bracelet is on, but this is one skill I’m not going to need. Because I’m going to be single, and be a baseball player, and live with my dog.”

This has literally been his mantra all summer long. About not getting married, having his buddy Connor as a roommate since they’ll both be professional baseball players, and having a dog. (I’m all: “Life Skill: someone needs to take care of your dog while you’re on the road all the time with the MLB, cowboy. Maybe a wife would be a good idea. Also? I want grandchildren.”)

—–

So, help me out. What are some other things my boys need to know how to do on their own?

Telling Time.

Sunday night, after the last of the boys’ baseball games was officially rained out, we hopped in the van to go get frozen custard.

Jack Henry grabbed this book on his way out the door:

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It’s a handmade quiet book that my mom’s beloved sister, my Aunt Dee, made for me when I was really little. It has all sorts of fun little activities, and my boys have all enjoyed it, too, as preschoolers. I thought they’d outgrown it for the most part until the other night, when Jack Henry pointed out the clock page.

JH asked if we’d teach him to tell time, so on the 15-minute drive, we taught him the hour and minute hand, and how to count by 5’s around the clock. Then he wanted me to give him times to put on the clock with its moveable hands, so I did.

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Matt decided to complicate it a bit and taught him quarter after and to and half past the hour…I thought that was too hard for him, but he got it!

It just made me so happy to know that this book is still being used and teaching another generation!

Thank you, Aunt Dee!

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Toothless Twins

The dental drama chez Diehl continues…

Luke has not lost a tooth in several years. He lost his front eight, and we’ve been waiting for his canines and molars to loosen up. Particularly because as soon as they are out, his orthodontia can begin. A couple of weeks ago, his lower left canine started to loosen. By midweek this week, it was really painful when something bumped into it.

Today, I finally convinced him to go ahead and pull it. He did, relieved to have it out for two reasons: one, it had been so long since he lost a tooth that he had forgotten how it felt, and two, now he could eat again without pain.

Jack Henry has had a really loose front bottom tooth for the last couple of weeks that he has let get to the point of dangling. So gross. I have been joking for the last several days that maybe both boys would lose a tooth on the same day. So when Luke pulled his today, Jack Henry wanted me to pull his.

On the first try, I got it out. He rinsed his mouth in the sink, and we went to sit down because he was feeling a little lightheaded. We sat with an ice cube wrapped in a paper towel on the bleeding spot for a couple of minutes. In an effort to get him out of the mindset that this wasn’t very fun, I suggested he go watch his brother play Minecraft.

Jack Henry agreed and pulled up a chair to the computer. I went into the kitchen to do something, and a minute later, I heard him walk into the bathroom. I don’t know why, but I followed him in there, just in time to catch him before he hit the floor.

Totally fainted. Just like his brother. It’s less scary for me than it used to be, but it’s really weird to see your kid with his eyes rolled back in his head and not responding correctly.

He fully came around after a couple of minutes and drank some juice and laid on the couch to recover.

I seriously CANNOT believe that we have a second kid who does this. I totally blame Matt.

Here are the toothless twins, and let me just say that Bennett is thrilled to not be in this club tonight.

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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.

All About Bennett (Early Birthday Edition)

1. As a follow-up to this post on his coughing issue: it’s asthma. I’m certain. He’s been on a steroid inhaler for 2+ months now, and we’ve broken out the rescue inhaler twice and used it for a maximum of a week each time when he started a little bit of a cough. No daily coughing anymore! It’s such a relief to feel like we at least know what it is. Now, he can’t stay on this steroid inhaler forever, and will likely go off it after allergy season passes. So it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds after that, but at least now we know.

2. His head wound has healed so beautifully I can’t believe it! Just a perfect pink line all through his eyebrow, which is sure to fade with time. It’ll be slathered in sunscreen all summer, but he always is anyway.

3. On Saturday, Bennett had his first practice baseball game, and during warm-ups, somehow took a ricocheted flyball to the lip. Gotta love getting a call from your friend (and coach’s wife) who’s already at the game, alerting you to the fact that you may see B coming back from the concession stand with a bleeding lip and ice pack, but that she’s checked it and it doesn’t need stitches. Sigh.

4. We decided, rather rashly for our family, to convert the guest bedroom into a bedroom for Bennett, which means all 3 boys have separate rooms now! Bennett was all for this, and he will gladly give up his room and bunk with Jack Henry when we have company, which was the deal we made with him upon making the switch.

Of course, he chose Illini as his theme, which is really cool because we had all kinds of stuff to go in there. Take a little look around!

uncle jake...recognize that old poster??

uncle jake…recognize that old poster??

reading corner

reading corner

inside the closet...my fave ikea storage unit (expedit) with some old illini crates.

inside the closet…my fave ikea storage unit (expedit) with some old illini crates.

view from the door

view from the door

nightstand...hayley made that frame years ago! cutie-pie little illini bros pic from 2008.

nightstand…hayley made that frame years ago! cutie-pie little illini bros pic from 2008.

2 old tees stretched over a canvas on the left; a cross-stitch of the chief that matt's mom made for him in college.

2 old tees stretched over a canvas on the left; a cross-stitch of the chief that matt’s mom made for him in college.

I have to admit, even more than when Luke moved into his own room 2 years ago (very few changes were made to decor), this felt like doing a big kid’s room for the first time. Which made me a tiny bit sad, but it was also really fun that he had ideas and input.

5. As of next Monday, he’ll be 9. NINE. One year from double-digits. Halfway to leaving for college. Birthdays now bring about a sense of urgency in me…there’s still so much I want him to know, and the years to learn those things are just flying by. And when I get reflective about Bennett and who he is and what it’s like to parent him, I get kinda weepy…I don’t know, I just love him so much, and parenting him has been challenging beyond what I envisioned and made me grow and stretch and I’m thankful for that and just hope we’re doing what’s right and good for him (and his brothers, of course) all the time. Does that make any sense?

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He’ll spend the weekend leading up to his birthday playing baseball, and his love for the sport combined with his love for his team makes that the perfect way to celebrate.

2nd season of t-ball ( sadly, i have no pics of him playing his first season!)

2nd season of t-ball ( sadly, i have no pics of him playing his first season!)

he'd just turned 4 here.

he’d just turned 4 here.

There will be lots of little celebrations over the coming days that I’ll be sure to document!

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!

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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!

A Little Throwback Thursday

At the beginning of it’s life, this little step stool got tons of use from me and my siblings (they each had one, too). I’m sure my aunt and uncle never envisioned their gift getting this much use :).

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i love so much about this picture because it screams late 70’s/early 80’s in the decor…the curtains, the wallpaper, the paneling. my rad shirt and those dangly braided ribbon-bead barrettes.

This step stool has been serving my own little family well since 2004.

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it’s in kinda rough shape…i’ve tried cleaning it many times with various products, but not much helps. the purple has faded to a pretty weird-looking gray, but none of us care!

I love that it’s still being used in our house today, even in its 30-year-old relic condition…you’ll find it in the bathroom on the main floor, and my nieces and nephew and friends’ kids use it to wash their hands now that my boys are all old enough to reach the faucet. The rest of us just grab it out of there as needed for a little boost!

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…

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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!

Spelling Bee: Results

After 8 days of prep, today was the big day. The spelling bee.

Luke and 17 other 3rd-5th graders got the chance to participate in the school-wide spelling bee this afternoon. I honestly had no idea what to expect in terms of how well he would do. I mean, he studied his butt off this past week…he couldn’t have done much more in terms of being prepared. But I just didn’t know how he’d cope under pressure, how the other kids would do, etc.

It went so, so much better than I ever could’ve expected!

Matt’s mom and dad joined me for the day, which was so fun. I was really glad they were in the audience with me. When we got there, I could tell Luke was nervous, but he seemed ok.

The first round consisted of very simple words, almost a warm-up for the kids. Over the next couple of rounds, only a few kids misspelled their words, but by round 6, it was down to 7.

4 kids were left by round 8. Including Luke. This was about the time I felt like I may be developing an ulcer.

Round 9. 3 kids. And this is where Luke made an error. On the word isochronous.

Yeah. No shame in losing on a word most people have never heard, right? :) We’d studied more than 3/4 of the list, and this was a word we didn’t get to. Oh well.

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so i hate the angle i had for pictures. we were the first ones there, and could’ve sat at the back of the room looking straight on at the kids. but, i thought, they’ll turn towards the audience to spell their words, and i’ll have a great side angle. nope. they looked at the judges. obviously. so this is the best i got.

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quick pic with nana jo and papa ron before they headed home!

Here’s the list of words he got today (minus one none of us can remember):
silly
globe
science
bountiful
courtier
bazooka
erstwhile
isochronous

I’ll finish this up with a little note to my boy.

Dear Luke,

I just want to tell you one more time how proud I am of you. Not just for finishing in the top 3 today; I would’ve been proud no matter what round you exited in. What I want you to know is that I’m so, so proud of the effort you put into studying for this.

And I hope that’s your take-away from this whole experience: evidence that working really hard towards a goal had a big payoff. No, you didn’t win. But I know that you did even better than you’d hoped. Plus, you and I ¬†(and the rest of our family) learned how to spell a lot of words as well as a lot of definitions to the words we just couldn’t resist knowing more about. ¬†Like mugwump. Or leonine.

If that’s what you can carry with you from this, I’ll be happy. That lesson, that hard work is worth it, especially as you enter middle school next year, will take you farther than any spelling bee victory ever would.

Love,
Mom