S: Mom, why do we have microphones at class? (meaning Primary at church)
M: So that everyone can hear.
S: Oh, because they are blond and don't hear very well?


Fun with Grandma and Grandpa Rieske

Last month we went to central Arkansas for a few days. Sydney stayed the night with Grandma and Grandpa Rieske and got to go to the zoo. She had a lot of fun and even got to dress up and play Dora in Grandpa's Elephant Ears...

Play Hollywood in the "car without a roof"

ride the zoo train

and the carousel!


Maybe we shouldn't

teach her how to write. This is a note I found on my dryer. (which makes a great dry erase board)

Stop, stop to me what to shay.

I think that means "Stop telling me what to say." (From "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now.") Just in case I couldn't read, she drew a stop light, too. Glad to know she is paying attention.


The Little Bang Theory

This year we did the Fourth of July quietly. In the past, we've had large parties or attended larger parties. Not this year. We just took it easy. We've had such a busy summer, and it was nice to have a quiet, laid back day. A simple barbecue, a few last minute friends, and a few homemade four-year-old decorations. I'm pretty sure this is how Fourth of July celebrations are meant to be.

Sydney was still a little scared of fireworks, but loved sparklers.

We all really like the fountains.

And even our furry guest for the weekend, Kip, joined us. He watched the show from Lindsay's lap. (Grizzly was too busy "protecting" us from the fireworks.)

Elle loved everything, wanted to touch everything, and even thought eating a smoke bomb sounded a bit appealing. She made it for a good part of the celebration, but eventually went to bed even with the commotion outside. Long after our fireworks ended, our neighbors kept us entertained.


The Big Bang Theory

I have a theory about fireworks. Big, small - they are all great, but they are just different. This is one thing I have had to work to convince David of during the last six years. He is content with just doing our own. I, on the other hand, need a good "big show" at least once a year. The problem David has with big shows is the crowd that comes with them. So, we decided (translated, I won at the last second) to go to the Veteran's Park show Friday night.

Elle pointed and giggled, and pointed some more. My baby was enamored at all of the flashes of light and color in the sky. After all, this was her first real Fourth of July. (two months old hardly counts.)

Sydney was amazed that we would actually give her permission to be on top of the car.

I got my big show, the girls loved it and we avoided all traffic by leaving a few minutes before it was over (and watching from several blocks away.) Everyone won, and we got to watch the beauty of wonder and excitement from of little ones' faces.


Yankee Doodle Dandy.

The day Sydney had been waiting all year for (or at least all week) had finally arrived. The Fourth of July! Now, unfairly to her, we decorated her bike for the Saturday parade on Wednesday. So, she woke up at O' dark thirty.

S: Mom, we have to put my flag tatoo on. It is time for the parade.
M: It is still dark outside. Go back to bed.
S: Wake up! Oh, WAKE UP! You are going to forget about my flag tatoo and we'll miss the parade!

So, we went back to sleep until a semi-righteous hour when the sun was at least beginning to shine. Then, we began getting ready for the parade, complete with "Fourth of July Braids" (so deemed by Sydney.)

She was excited to be there, with all 5 million other kids and all 10 people that came to actually watch the parade. But, none of that mattered. She had her decorated bike, and her sister's decorated stroller, complete with one lazy dog.

Elle rode in her normal nonchalant manner, kicking her feet, and giving the occasional wave. She was more of an observer.

It was a hoot.


Growing up

Our little Elle is growing up quickly. 14.5 months already! She amazes us with the things she is doing everyday, and constantly tries to keep up with Sydney. She really wants to dance like Sydney does and has a great little grove developing. She has already found the little stage in the corner at dance and spends a good portion of Sydney's dance class playing on it.

She loves helping in the kitchen (probably partially due to the fact that it is one time she doesn't get in trouble for climbing on the step stool.) Here she was helping me with the 22 lbs of green beans we picked. I'm not sure what was more fun for her, the washing or the picking. She loved the picking and the pouring dirt in her hair, but she also liked helping wash them (a free excuse to play in the water.) I am amazed at how quickly she can watch me do something and then seconds later be doing the same exact thing.

She loves hanging out with Sydney. When school starts back in September I think Elle will miss her big sister a lot. She loves playing with her and following her around the house all morning. She is very content to just play with whatever Sydney tells her to play with, and play how Sydney tells her to play. They have arguments, but that I figure, is just part of the process.

Another one of Elle's favorite things is dogs. She says "puppy" very clearly. She loves dogs of all shapes and sizes, but the bigger the better. Here she is playing in Kip's cage (a dog that stayed with us for a weekend while his family was out of town.)

She loves making noise while going over bumps, drinking anything with a straw, giving kisses, head-butting, and making people laugh. She is into everything and has a smile that is quite contagious. We love having her as a part of our family!


Sunday Afternoons

We love Sunday afternoons. After surviving church (I say surviving, because they chances of both kids making it happily through three hours of church are just rare) we get to come home have lunch, Sunday naps, and then an evening full of time of just being together. This week, we made M&M cookie bars and therefore, we also made some happy little girls.


Dancing Queen

Sydney started dance company last week. Yes, she is four and in company. Call me crazy if you want, and yes this is a decision we agonized over for several weeks. It is a lot of time, a good bit of money, and a lot of work and commitment for a four year old. But, in the end, when it came down to it - this is her thing. She loves it. Most four-year-olds play house. Well, while she does her share of it, she also spends a good share of her time choreographing routines. Last year, I would say she spent a good thirty to forty minutes a day practicing her routine. The kid is committed.

Learning the company routine for this year - A Michael Jackson mix. (Ever watched a four year old try and pop?)

She is definitely at the end of the pack on skill, but she should be, because she is the youngest. I love it for her though, because she is having to work a lot harder (and she has that whole four-year-old coordination thing to work against as well.) Right now they are doing their summer practice where they are in with the entire company (up to the high school seniors) and the look of determination on her face is priceless. One thing I love about company is the willingness of the girls to help one another. If Sydney isn't getting something and the teacher stops to help someone else, one of the older girls will immediately walk over to Sydney and start working with Sydney to help her figure her part out. They really work as a TEAM! (Oh, and did I mention that the mom's are the same way?? None of the snooty stuff we were dealing with before!)

But, in true Sydney form, she is not the least bit intimidated by the older girls...

The first day they had them sit in a big circle (around 40 girls) and say their name, age, grade, and something they were doing this summer. After each girl Sydney would say, "And next." Then, when it got to one of the teachers, Mrs. Brittaney, and she said her age, 28, Sydney's response was, "Old, old, old."

This all before she found a mini deck of Uno cards in my purse. She decided that she wanted to play with her new friends. (Did I mention that the older girls fuss over her like crazy?) She wanted to play during a water break, but was told she didn't have time. I told her to put the cards back in my purse and assumed she did. Well, towards the end of class (45 minutes after the water break) I see her tugging at her tights. So did her teacher. Apparently, she had stuck the cards down the front of her leotard. Through the turns and leaps, the deck of cards had slowly been making their way down the front of her leotard, into her tights, and down the leg. She spent the last five minutes of class trying to shove them back up the leg and at least keep them hidden under her skirt. When Brittaney asked if that was the cards Sydney of course denied any knowledge of said cards.

I've been told by both Brittaney and Jordan that this may be a tough year, because they don't know if they'll ever be able to actually get mad at her. I assured them the cuteness does wear off.


Six years and counting...

Six years ago, we found a quaint little bed and breakfast in Little Rock, Arkansas.

We decided it would be the perfect spot for this bride

and this handsome groom

to gather our family and a few close friends. Of course, the groom insisted he couldn't do it without this very cake.

So, July 5, 2003 he and I became us.

Last week we finally found a day ( a couple of days late, but that isn't what is important) to celebrate. He brought home roses and chocolate. I brought home the ingredients for his favorite meal (tortellini Alfredo.) We had dinner. We watched a movie. We celebrated six years of being us.


I married

an Excel Geek. For real. It is scary the things he knows how to do with Excel, actually, it is borderline EMBARRASSING. And, I'm slowly coming to terms with it. I just had to put that out there.


Zumba Queen

Dancer I am not. But, today I was a Zumba Queen. Week 4 of my gym membership and I finally braved up enough to try a Zumba class. Lots of salsa, samba and booty shakin. Let's just say that I'm glad we were in a dimly lit room and that I managed to find a nice cozy spot in the back of the room. I moved in ways I had no idea my little-self could. For an entire hour. Now, if I had actually known anyone in there I would have been embarrassed beyond belief, but I didn't. So I shook what my mama gave me and didn't care. Now, we'll see if I'll be able to walk tomorrow. My hips are starting to tell me no.


What We're Eating

Well, we're back with an old-new blog. A long time ago I started a blog with great intentions, got busy with this whole child-rearing thing, and left it in the dust. But, every so often I am caught somewhere and wish I had my recipe for XYZ, and alas it is at home. Or, I get to summer again, and am scrambling around trying to plan meals and think, "What did we eat last summer. I'm sure we ate, but nothing, I mean NOTHING sounds good right now." So, my blog has been born-again if for nothing else other than purely selfish reasons. You'll find a collection of my favorite recipes (some mine, some from friends, some straight from Ye Ol' Internet) as well as a weekly meal plan. The meal plan mainly because I hope it inspires others to share theirs - I have searched and searched the internet and always find a mishmash of things I'm sure my family won't eat (or that I'm too cheap to buy, or just won't attempt to cook, or just think sound gross.) So, world, meet
What We're Eating.


Learning Time

So, in an effort to keep Sydney busy (and out of trouble) we've been doing learning time this summer. She loves it. She picks a topic and we go to the library check out books on that subject. It has been a great way for us to check out non-fiction books, which we haven't ever done before. We read, write, do a few crafts, some cooking - really whatever fun things we can think of to do. My goal is to make it as fun as possible, spend some one-on-one time with her (since it is usually while Elle is napping) and make sure a little learning is taking place. Plus, she is learning to do some basic cooking and even a little sewing. Her sock elephant we made during elephant week has become something she takes everywhere. That week she was obsessed not just with elephants, but with Asian elephants.

Here is a picture from the week we studied dogs (complete with puppy chow as a snack.) Elle was awake for this activity. Sydney even made her a set of ears, but it took the bribe of a sucker to get her to let me paint her nose. However, Elle wasn't very fond of the ears, which is why the ear is torn. About two seconds after the picture, the whole thing was off of her head, too.

Sydney is reading really well, and I'm so proud of her. I was surprised how quickly she went from a few sight words to full-on reading. An added bonus is that she can read to Elle in the car - the board books are all easy enough and it keeps Elle entertained in the backseat while I'm driving which I'm loving!


From the little one

Sydney decided as soon as she saw this that she needed to blog about it. (Does this say anything about my parenting?) So without any further adieu, straight from the mouth of a four-year-old:

I was going to put the angel on my playhouse that I just painted today, but I saw the spider! Then I decided that it was close to me and then I wanted to climb up, but it was a little bit far, so I decided to not go in the playhouse door because if I walk where the spider was, it will crawl on me and I will be dead and die. (I swear I didn't tell her that.) And I love my whole family so, so much and I don't want to die. So then I goed inside and told my mom so she could come and see the spider and my Mommy saw it and she said, "Daddy should kill it." So it won't get on me. So now I go on my computer blog and we blogged the spider's picture on the computer blog. Now I have to do learning time. I love my Daddy and Elle. And Mommy, too. And myself. The End.

So, there you have it. Sydney's first official post. She is already bragging about it.
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