Oktoberfest!

We inherited a new instrument from our church friend, Auntie Donna.  I would have never imagined we’d add this one to Marcus’ growing collection of musical toys.

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But now we are proud owners of a mini-accordion.  I wish I could have caught on film his initial reaction to seeing it on Sunday.  Just imagine gigantic toothless smile, bouncing knees, high-pitched squeal, and a desperate attempt to get rid of the half-eaten beef jerky in his hand so that he could touch the keys.

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On the whole ride home from church, he talked about how much he wanted to play it when he got home.  “It’s so beautiful,” he admired.  And play it when he got home he did. From 2:30pm until he went to bed, he went to town on that thing, with only two 20-minute breaks for a snack and dinner.  The kid was focused. His arms were probably sore.

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But did he care?  No.  Because after his last bite of breakfast the next morning, he went at it again.

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Please acknowledge that there are sound effects to these pictures. This instrument is LOUD. And not only that, since he doesn’t know how to really play it yet, it sounds like a haunted version of the Disneyland carrousel. I was on some business calls while he was playing and had to yell in order for the lady on the other line to hear me with my son’s crazy polka music bumping in the background. And I was a little scared when the drywall estimate guy came over later that day, praying that Marcus wouldn’t pick it up and decide to do a little recital for the stranger at our house. Thankfully, he didn’t and it spared me having to shout at the man so that he could hear me while Marcus was oompa-pa oompa-pa-ing in the living room.

Everyone got their turn with the new instrument.  Marcus let Audrey have a few turns and even let Derek admire it from afar.  He was very interested, hence the curled toes.

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I thought he was gonna try to play it too.

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But it turns out he just wanted to suck on the metal buckle while his brother moved the instrument back and forth.

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And my favorite example of how this accordion is bringing our family together?  The average man will spend his Monday evenings watching football on the couch with beer in hand. Not my husband. He spent Monday night having to play the accordion for his son.

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As for me, I’m gonna go to bed now and get ready for day 4 of Oktoberfest tomorrow.

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Wonder Boy Update

It’s been almost 5 months since my last post on Big D.  He is now 11 months old.  He continues to amaze us.  Is it just that he’s our first typical boy and we’re not used to his boyish ways, or is he really a spectacle?  I guess I’ll never know.

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At his 9 month appointment, he weighed over 23 pounds and he currently wears size 5 diapers during the day and size 6 at night.  Is that okay?

Whenever Mike’s in the next room with Derek and I hear “WHY?!  Derek, WHY?!” I smile because I know he’s either scaling a dresser while holding onto the knobs or he’s trying to bite off a piece of furniture.  Is that what typical boys do?

What I’ve dug out of his mouth so far:  crayon, pieces of a rubber handle, wood bitten off a basket, and a piece of my index finger.  He is also very close to chewing off pieces of our leather couch.  What’s with the biting and mouthing EVERYthing?  Is that normal?

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This is how Marcus plays with blocks.

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This is how Derek plays with blocks.  First, the cigar hold.

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The blue block + cute face combo.

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The red block + crawling combo.  A definite favorite.

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The red block + TV combo.  Another favorite.

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Going in for the circle block grip.

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The circle block freestyle.  A crowd-pleaser.

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Derek,  no matter how weird you may be, no matter how heavy you are, no matter how many trips to the ER we will have, no matter how many times you grab yourself when I’m changing your diaper, no matter how hard you cry when interacting with Caucasian men, no matter how many foreign objects we’ll have to pump out of your stomach, no matter how many nails you break off from violently scratching things, I LOVE that you were meant to be in this family.

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You sure are loved, Big D, Lil’ Biggie, Big Poppa, Biggie Piggie, Baby Der!

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Preschool Rockstar

Since Marcus’ school  is on a year-round schedule, he’s already finished a month of school and so far, so great.  He’s rockin’ the new class, with the new teachers, new therapists, and new friends.  Here are the highlights so far:

*  Taking 20 independent steps in PT (crazy!).
*  Jibber-jabbering the whole way home, telling me about his day.
*  Having a half-dozen teachers, aides, administrators, therapists come up to me to tell me that he’s determined, hard-working, adorable, smart, bright, a joy to be with, cuddly, and just plain something-else.  One even told me he’s made everyone fall in love with him.  I don’t doubt it a bit.
*  Telling me what he got for his reward everyday before I can even say, “Hi”.  The dude is so proud of himself whenever I pick him up from school, you’d think he got elected class president everyday!

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*  Drawing this in OT

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And my favorite highlight…

*  Making real friends.

I asked him who his favorite friends at school were during his bath last night and he said, Ben.  I thought he might have just said the first name he could think of, but it turns out they are really forming a bond.  Today was Ben’s birthday and during his little party, he demanded that Marcus sit with him.  So they honored the birthday boy’s wish and pulled Marcus out of his PT session so that he could celebrate with his bud.  After school, I spoke with Ben’s mom and it turns out that Ben is talking about Marcus at home too and really likes him.  And while walking to our cars, Ben even asked her if he and Marcus could walk up the grassy hill to play together.  (Heart-melt!)  I wish I could have caught a picture of the fist bump they gave each other today!

Okay, so I cried on the way home.  This might be such a normal thing for other moms to experience, but it’s no small thing for me.  I always wondered if Marcus would be able to make friends, if other boys would have a genuine liking to him.  It turns out there’s at least one boy that does!  Oh, how I love normal!  I thanked God on our short ride home for this unique and special blessing.  Another whisper from Him to tell us, “See?  I’m taking care of you!”

So yes, Marcus is rockin’ preschool.  He’s the Bono of preschool.  Rock on!

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Dreams Do Come True

Whenever I ask Marcus if he had any dreams the night before, he always says, “yes” and he always says he dreams about music.  I’m not sure if he knows what dreams are, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he really did dream about playing all his favorite instruments like a pro.

A couple weeks ago, we took the kids to see the Pacific Symphony perform a free outdoor concert in our city and take part in the interactive musical playground.  Needless to say, it was a dream come true for our little Mozart.

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We approached a violinist who I thought could have been David Arquette with a curly mustache.  Marcus saw David’s violin and then, of course,  had to pull out his own.

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David started playing a piece for Marcus

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And Marcus thought it would sound better as a duet.

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After that, he looked around and realized that this place was THE BOMB.  I didn’t get it on camera, but his knees were bouncing and the hugest toothless grin plastered his face.  In this picture, he’s probably thinking, “I can’t believe it.  It’s just like my dreams!”  There may have even been expletives involved.  The boy was excited!

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Up next, real life, man-sized trombone.

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Look at his form on the trumpet!  You better watch your back, Wynton Marsalis!

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I think the highlight for him was playing the violin because he talked about wanting to play it again for the rest of the night.

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Meanwhile, Audrey made a tambourine craft while eyeing the 2 bounce houses she was excited to sweat in.

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Audrey’s dream come true = football field-sized bounce house built on top of a trampoline, with alternating Icee and cotton candy stands inside + built-in air conditioning so that she can expel liters of sweat to her heart’s content.  Either that, or to be the first 6 year-old contestant on Wipeout.

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She looks like a bizarre combination of Ramona Quimby and Mike’s dad in this picture.

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BTW, all the swimming this summer made Audrey several shades darker.  She looks like the offspring of a bi-racial marriage.

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I don’t know Derek well enough yet to know what his dream come true would be.

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But something tells me that baby body building might be involved.

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And snacks.

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So our summer evening out at the concert was a fun time for all of us.  We had full tummies, a camera full of captured memories, and happy kids.  I’m not sure what Marcus dreamt about that night, but I think I have an idea.

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What The Kids Have Been Up To This Summer

It’s mid-August already and I almost want to take myself out to a nice dinner and pin a ribbon on my own shirt to congratulate myself for surviving the summer with the kids.  I’ve felt both “Oh my goodness, when are these kids going back to school?!” and “I never want to let my babies go!” simultaneously, many times day.

I’m terribly backlogged with my picture editing and posting, but here’s part 1 of what the kids have been up to this summer:

We’ve been trying out underwear

Violin practicing (no, my son doesn’t have 4 arms)

Observing the violin practicing

We got to enjoy a free outdoor concert.

And made good use of the grass

Audrey agreed to let me cut her hair, since it was getting a bit too long.  I searched through magazines and hired a stylist to give me some inspiration for my daughter’s new ‘do.  (j/k) Here’s what I came up with.  This style is called “Accidental FOB”.  It will be the new craze amongst 1st graders this year.

Yep, the first cut was way too short and I couldn’t undo it, so now she looks like a girl whose mom may not speak English very well and may wear high heels to Disneyland.  She also is now the real-life version of Ramona Quimby.  But it’s okay because she did NOT flunk her swim lessons this year!  My firstborn is swimming!

The summer has been both restful and full.

I’m thankful.


(photographer:  Marcus Lee)

Attack Of The Brothers

Big Brother:  Yes! She is pinned down, in perfect position.
Lil’ Brother:  I just pulled her hair.  She seems okay though.
Sister:  (nervous laughter)  Heh heh.  I sure love my brothers.

BB:  Let’s see if she’ll tolerate me sitting on her now.  Derek, watch and learn.
LB:  I have so much to learn, Big Brother.
Sis:  Uh, this is kind of uncomfortable.

BB:  Okay, Little Brother, I think I’ve found her threshold.
LB: Boy, that was a great move, Big Brother.
Sis:  That really hurt and I’m sad now.  I thought you loved me.

BB:  I do love you, Sister.  I really do.
LB:  Hey, I didn’t do anything wrong…right?
Sis:  Waaaah!

Sis:  Why do you boys always torment me?
BB:  Sister, we love you.  Tormenting you is how we show our love for you.

Sis:  Well I don’t LIKE that!

BB:  But, I like it.  (pause) I like it a lot.

LB:  Wow, I think I’m going to enjoy this brother business.
Sis:  Hmph!

We are brothers!  Yeah! Brothers!