Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What I Did On My Summer Vacation: By Della Belle

Della had a pretty fun summer. She has done a lot of changing and growing in the past few weeks and it's been fun to see her get more and more curious and opinionated. Actually that last one can sometimes be not so fun, but that's life with a toddler right?

We went swimming a few times this summer and Della learned pretty quick that if she saw me with a swim diaper she was probably going to get wet. She would often get a swim diaper, carry it in her mouth while crawling over to me, shove the swim diaper into my hand, and then sign "more". Clearly she was asking me to take her swimming but since I couldn't always do that she settled on being able to wear her swim diaper over her clothes. Once the diaper was on she would go around the house like it was business as usual. But then she would stop and lift up her shirt to check and see if it was still there...

She found a new brush which she decided would be best used on her hair. Don't worry, it was brand new and I hadn't used it yet...

Della discovered the industrial grade headphones that Archer used to wear when he thought vacuuming the stairs was too loud. She also has discovered her brother's shoes which are much cooler than her own...


I had turned on a yoga workout one day and I looked up and saw Della copying me...

You may be wondering what this picture is doing in a post about Della's summer. I found this lamp at a thrift store and thought it would be cute in Della's room. Last month I noticed that Della was crawling upstairs every 5 minutes to go into her room where she would stand holding onto her dresser while desperately reaching and stretching with all her might to grab the lamp. I needed the endless chasing her up and down the stairs to stop so I brought the lamp downstairs. It now sits on our kitchen counter and she insists that it be on at all times. This is a woman who knows what she wants...


Speaking of knowing what she wants, Della has discovered the Disny/Pixar movie "Monsters Inc." Using the iPad she tells us that she wants to watch this movie. Every day. All day. Here is a screen shot of the iPad (which for some reason won't rotate so my apologies for the sideways view). At the top (or on the left side of the picture) is the history showing the buttons that Della has used. Notice it is the same button. Over. And over. And over. It's a good thing Billy Crystal's character is funny, otherwise I would be going a little crazy. *I realize that the display history says "Monsters Ink" but that's because the iPad's "voice" said something weird sounding when we typed in "Inc."

Della discovered her love for making chocolate cookies. Here she demonstrates her favorite cookie-making method...



Remember the disastrous blackberry picking excursion that I mentioned in Archer's post? Well, Della had a much better time than her brother. Here she is with a mouth full of berries...

She liked this trip way more than last year's...

We were only out in the patch for 20 minutes but Della had already turned beet red from the heat (not a sunburn). We rushed her back to the car and turned on the air conditioning and she felt much better after that...

Della's development hovers between 12 and 18 months. Even though she is 3.5 years-old, she still puts everything in her mouth. Like her favorite book "No David!"...

Or her favorite Wii game, Lego Star Wars, which she thrusts into Archer's hands and begs him to play it by signing "more", pounding her little fists together as hard and as fast as she can...

She also enjoys chewing on the cardboard box filled with Wii/TV/DVD controllers that I covered with paper and Modge Podge...

If no paper items are available, then she will settle for a battery...

Belle's hand (this picture is disturbing)...

Or couch cushion stuffing...
I know that batteries, paper, and couch cushion stuffing are dangerous and toxic and I don't allow her eat these things if I can help it. Anyone with a crawling baby knows that you can't catch everything that they put in their mouth and you never know what you are going to find stuffed into the pockets of their cheeks.

I saved the best for last. Della took her first unassisted step this summer! You have to trick her into standing on her own and on this particular day Chad stood in front of her and held his hands out to her. She took one step forward, regained her balance, and then decided she didn't want to walk anymore because she prefers to be carried everywhere. I didn't get her step on video but I did get some footage of her standing by herself. It's a little long and once you see her standing, you get the gist of it. However if you continue watching you can see how she refuses to cooperate with us when she doesn't want to. Also- for some reason You Tube has resized it's screens and it doesn't fit on the blog very well. For the full effect it is best to click on the video twice and to watch it in a new window on the actual You Tube site...

Monday, September 20, 2010

What I Did On My Summer Vacation: By Archer

We had a busy summer so I thought the best way to document what we did was to divide it into three parts. Archer will be part one, Della part two, and Chad and Caitlin will be part three.

Most of Archer's summer was spent outside in the fort that Chad built. Our backyard was the place to be if you are a little boy who lives near us. They would spend hours out in the yard hammering, eating Otter Pops, and making dangerous looking structures out of precariously stacked scrap wood. I caught this shot of Archer between one of his many trips in and out of the house. Notice the guilty look on his face. I found out later that he had snuck a permanent marker outside...


Archer enjoyed eating plenty of corn that we grew...

When it was too hot to play outside Archer would build couch cushion forts and tents in his room. Here are some of the many things he tied to the bottom of his bed which I had to cut off because I couldn't untie the knots he had made...

I love projects that take up a lot of time and this was one of them. Archer painted these letters and taped them on the garage for Chad's birthday...

He also helped me decorate the door with streamers but Della tore them down and tried to eat them...


Archer spent lots of time with the chickens...

He also started gymnastics this summer. This is the best sport ever! There are no games to attend every Saturday and I spend all of his practices in an air conditioned room. What's not to love!?! Plus, it was the most hilarious hour of my week...

We took a day trip to Old Town Spring where we ate at a super greasy restaurant that was covered with license plates. Archer insisted that I take his picture in front of them...

Chad and I thought it would be fun to take the kids blackberry picking. Boy were we wrong. Apparently this activity is like torture to Archer because he started freaking out. I took some video of the tantrum that ensued after he announced that if he didn't get a drink of water right then, he was going to die of thirst.




Archer also started a blog called Amazeable. Archer chose the name, background picture, and wrote or dictated his own posts. Here is a link to what he wrote over the summer.

Remember how I like projects that take up lots of time? I don't really know why, but Archer had been begging us for an electric pencil sharpener. So back in June I told him that he could earn money to buy a sharpener all his own. It took three months for him to save $11. We made a big deal over our trip to Office Depot to buy the sharpener. As soon as we got home he tore all the batteries out of the Wii controllers and stuck them in the sharpener. I showed him how to lightly push the pencil into the hole and he went to sharpen all of his pencils. On his way to the pencil box, he dropped the sharpener and it broke. He never even got the chance to try it. It was seriously one of the saddest things I have ever seen. Don't worry, we bought him a new one.

One night while getting ready for bed Archer asked Chad "Do you think God has a great deed for me to do like Noah?" Chad said "Oh yes! You are going to be a great missionary and a daddy someday." Archer took this to heart and devised a plan "Dad, I think we should write our favorite scriptures on a piece of paper and give them to our neighbors." Chad told him that the church has already made something like that called Pass Along Cards. Archer was so excited that he wanted to get some from the missionaries ASAP. So the next night they brought over a stack and we talked about who we could give them out to and what we should say. As soon as we were done Archer ran outside to play. As the missionaries were leaving we opened the front door just in time to see Archer running from one neighbor's doorstep to the next. We called him back as we thought it might seem strange to people that the neighbors the hardly knew were sending their 6 year-old son out to preach about Jesus Christ. But don't worry, it didn't deter Archer. He entire stack of cards was gone in a few days.

4th of July in September

Somehow this year's 4th of July didn't end up on the blog. I know you were all left with a deep sense of longing when we didn't share it with you. So without further ado...

We had some very special guests at our house during the 4th. My brother Jon and his wife Raquel (who is expecting boy #2 in December) and their son Cody...


Archer was in absolute heaven having Cody stay with us. There was plenty of cousin bonding going on...

Della had a good time too (can you tell?)...


Of course there were plenty of fireworks...

Cody was amazed...

Della spent the entire night signing "more"...

And Archer made his mother super nervous by riding his scooter as close as he could to open flames...

Of course there was the quintessential father-son bonding over fire. Notice how Archer had to sit on his hands since he didn't have the self-control not to do extremely dangerous things...

Della signing "more", Archer being Archer, and me doing some sort of crazy pose...

Jon and Cody(isn't Cody the cutest thing?)...

This year's fireworks were pretty awesome, but it just can't beat last year when Chad screamed "This is for America!" before lighting off a few cannon-style explosives.


Houston is so hot and humid in the summer that you sweat constantly, even at night. It doesn't cool off much in the evening. Most nights the temperature stays above 80 degrees with 100% humidity. So that is why my son's hair is wet...

We had so much fun with Jon, Raquel, and Cody. I had only met Raquel and Cody once before so it was great getting to spend lots of one-on-one time with them. We don't know when we will get to see them again since my brother moved from the Air Force Base in Okinawa and is now stationed in South Korea. They are welcome back anytime!

Monday, September 06, 2010

I have this wonderful friend named Julia. I have known her for the past 10 years and Chad has known her for 20 years! Not long after I became friends with Julia her sweet 8 year-old sister, Carol Joy, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Carol Joy had surgery to remove the tumor but a lot of permanent damage had been done. She was hospitalized for months and my dear friend Julia would make the 140 mile round-trip drive to visit her sister as often as she could, sometimes more than once a week! I was able to accompany Julia on some of those visits. In the beginning, Carol Joy was in a coma but Julia would sit by her side and hold her sister's hand and talk to her about anything and everything. Then, as Carol Joy started to wake up, Julia would paint her nails or color with her. Once we took Carol Joy to a "play date" to visit another young girl who was a patient at the same hospital. I remember once visit when Carol Joy asked me to draw a dolphin. I don't even pretend to know how to draw, but I tried anyway. When I showed her my drawing she started to laugh, a lot. Through her giggles she told me that what I had made looked nothing like a dolphin.


I wanted to be a comfort to my friend Julia as she watched her sister struggle through her illness, but my visits started to turn into something else. I wanted to be around Carol Joy. In spite of the long drive, the sometimes scary hospital setting, the difficulty of seeing a child having to suffer in this way, I always left feeling uplifted and hopeful and at peace. I can't help but think that the Lord was preparing me for the arrival of our daughter, another one of these precious spirits whose body would not be like as strong or as healthy as other children's.

A few weeks ago Carol Joy went into surgery to help her smile again. Then last week, she unexpectedly passed away. When I heard what had happened, I had two emotions. I felt sadness, of course, that her life had been so short. I was sad for her family, that they would have the opportunity to see her again in this life. But, I also felt relief. All the pain and the struggles Carol Joy had, it was over now. She was free of the body that had so many limits and frailties.

Carol Joy passed away unexpectedly and like most of us who have a special needs child, her family is having some financial difficulties. An account has been set up to help pay for final expenses. Please donate what you can. Please helo the Knapp family with the last thing they will do for their daughter on this earth. Click here for a link to the Carol Joy Memorial Fund. My friend Ruth whose daughter has the only documented case of a specific chromesome deletion, wrote a beautiful tribute about Carol Joy coming to visit her daughter in the NICU.

Friday, September 03, 2010



Last spring Della was measured for a new walker. This is her second walker as the first had a few limitations. For one, the wheels didn't swivel. I think the idea was, that Della was supposed to lift slightly on the walker and redirect is path when she wanted to turn. But she is either too weak or never quite caught on to this concept. Which was hard because as exciting as it was for her to use the walker, it was also sort of pointless unless one of us followed along side making corrections for her. Really, she could only go straight until she ran into something. Which at that time, she would just start ramming the walker into what ever the obstacle was until someone came and turned her around.
So now with a swivel, Della has free reign to go where ever she wants. Which, has presented a whole new set of problems for us. Here she is getting in the trash can.


As with her last walker, Caitlin made a name plate.