A Favorite Activity

Some things that Rudy Mae is really into, I hope will not stick, like the dumping out the cats’ food and water or trying to eat the loose litter bits that the cats kick out of the litter box. There is one thing, however, that I hope is an indicator of her future hygiene habits: she absolutely loves brushing her teeth. She doesn’t quite have the proper technique down yet, but as long as the drive is there, that is all I care about. The day before the boys left, I snapped a few shots of Rudy and Calum partaking in this activity.

Sitting on the toilet, Rudy enjoys her teeth brushing routine.

Calum and Rudy Mae brush their pearly whites together.

Rudy feels like it is her duty to help make sure everyone brushed the best they could.



The Tradition (Hopefully) Continues…

Anybody who knows me, will at least know of, if not know, my best friend Raven. We have been best friends since we were 10. It is so ingrained into our minds of being best friends forever that one time when some guy was asking me about my significant other “So, how long have you guys been together?”, Raven, without hesitation, answered “13 years.” not trying to be funny, but really thinking he was asking about us. (It’s now been 20 years, dear me, that makes me feel so old!) We are incredibly close,  but are also each incredibly busy, so some time might pass now and then between visits. She lives in Bexley (Columbus), Ohio, and I in Yellow Springs (Dayton), Ohio so it’s not just a trip around the corner anymore, and takes a little more planning and a little more effort.

“We’re ‘E’ ‘R’ and we’ll send you to the *clap* EMERGENCY ROOM.”

Raven has two boys, Jon (13) and Eliot (12) from a previous relationship. I have Ziven (13) and Calum (10) from a previous relationship. They all grew up together and were very close, more at some times than others (at the end, right before Raven moved to Bexley and we were all still in Toledo, we were helping babysit each others kids at least twice a week each). When she moved, I was crushed. I went down twice in a month the very first month, and then real life took over and I realized that I couldn’t make that kind of a trip that often. Fate stepped in when I met Caleab, and I eventually moved to Yellow Springs, which in addition to living with the love of my life and finding the best community on Earth, brought me much closer to Raven, from 3 hours down to just 1.

Fast forward just a wee bit, and Raven married one of the greatest men on Earth, AJ, in July of 2010, and I married Caleab (you got it- the other greatest man on Earth) in September 2010. While wedding planning, just a short time away from our big day, Caleab and I got the most exciting (and slightly terrifying) news we could imagine- we were pregnant! I wanted so badly for Raven and AJ to join us, as I knew that they were possibly planning on trying shortly after their wedding to get pregnant, and lo and behold, just 3 months later, Raven and I were sharing morning sickness stories. (I will never forget the phone call I received from Raven. I screamed, I cried, I wanted to run all the way to her house and give her the biggest double pregnant hug in the world!)

So. Two old boys and two old boys. And now, as we could not believe we were lucky enough to achieve, a baby girl each. Although, “toddler” might be the technical term now, as Rudy Mae is 15 months, and Sam just had her first birthday. I know we cannot force friendship on them, but with moms like us, and it being in their blood, how can they not be? ;) We jokingly say that they are best friends, but I really do dream of the day when Rudy Mae looks at me with her huge, saucer eyes and refers to Sammy G as her “very best friend”.

Rudelle Mae and Samantha Gail.

At Sammy G’s birthday party, Aunt Raven gives Roo a big hug.

Rudy and Sammy playing in the little geysers.

Really enjoying the water.

“Hey Sammy, where you goin?”

Wait for it….

Dried off and back at the house, the girls played in the backyard for quite some time.

Happy Birthday, Samantha Gail!!!

Sam was looking up the slide, getting ready to climb the mountain.

Climbing up! Rudy is standing at the bottom, slightly intrigued, slightly concerned.

“Here, I’ll help you.”

When I get this look, I know it’s time to chill out on the photograph taking.

Music to my Soul

The other day I was getting ready to leave the house, and in the background, one of the absolute sweetest displays was going on; a regular occurrence in our house, so much to the point that I admittedly, sometimes, do not even pay attention to it. When I took a step back and quietly and unknowingly to the performers, really observed what was unfolding before me, I was overwhelmed with the beauty, the adorableness, the sweet memory making moment. I am so blessed to have the family that I do.

Caleab and Rudy Mae playing the piano together.

These moments are so heart wrenching, they make me feel like I could cry. Of course, I have a tendency to be over emotional, but I feel like I’m really not being over-exaggerate here.

Short Trip to the Parents

Enough about having to part with the boys, I know!, but I just need to mention it right quick to explain why I was at my parents’ house. To drive 2 and 1/2 hours with the baby in the car to drop the boys off to their other set of grandparents who were going to drive them out to Minnesota, I really felt like I wanted to not just turn right back around and drive home. I wanted to feel like I could justify that kind of a drive with something a little more upbeat and lengthy. Five minutes at a gas station holding back tears did not seem worth the drive. As soon as I had all the plans set in stone with the boys’ grandparents and knew that we were going to be meeting at a gas station just minutes from my parents’ house, I called my mom and asked her if Rudy Mae and I could spend Thursday and Friday with her (Caleab could not get out of work and I just happened to be off those two days). Of course, she was game and more than excited. A short, random trip up north does not get to happen often, so we tried to make the most of it. And of course, I took plenty of photographs.

A strawberry plant in my parents’ garden.

A hiding gnome.

Line drying the bedding that Rudy Mae and I were to sleep on.

An odd looking fungus that Rudy Mae was peering at with me, if you notice her two little hands supporting her crouch.

Harry the Dog and Rudy Mae are always best friends when we visit. It reminds me of the ‘Carl’ books.

Fresh herbs, an awesome cast iron plant stand, and a watering can.

Beauty was all around us.

I could have taken photographs for the longest time in my parents’ backyard. There was inspiration everywhere I looked. It was a beautiful day back there.

My mom brought an old doll down for Rudy Mae to play with.

Eating lunch at the island.

She is starting to be very silly when I take her picture.

Finding food she dropped is like finding new food :)

Getting pedicures!

My lovely Aunt Karen and wonderful Mama.

Rudy Mae, who was sitting on my lap the entire time I was getting a pedicure, found her swimsuit in the diaper bag and insisted on it being put on. It was a very relaxing pedicure.

Mom, Aunt Karen, Lillian, and me.

We spotted Lillian air-drying her newly polished nails out the car window and had a giggle.

Poor girl was carted around all Thursday and Friday. She probably hated the car so much in those 36 hours.

Moma, Mama, and the bebe.

My Aunt Jacque and Rudy Mae, after a nice Mexican lunch with as much familia that could make it.

Lillian, Parker, Natalie, and Aunt Karen. We were all sitting around chatting for a while after the food was gone.

Tia Mary, Mom, Aunt Jacque holding Rudy Mae. Tia Mary had brought cookies for everyone after we ate. Delicious.

We talked about books, movies, television, and more. I really enjoyed lunch and the time with my family.

Caleab’s brother Courtney’s wife, and my friend for years and years before I ever even met Caleab, Lynn, and her daughter Vivian stopped over for a quick visit before I had to get back on the road to Yellow Springs.

Rudy Mae and Vivian played in my parents’ backyard for quite some time, pretty happy to see each other.

Rudelle Mae.

It was very surprising to me to see Rudy sitting in the grass. She couldn’t stand to touch it for the longest time.

Rudy Mae, 15 months, Vivian Louise, 12.5 months. Cousins 10.5 weeks apart.

Vivian didn’t want to be in the chair anymore, but Rudy Mae was quite comfortable and stayed put for a while.

As I drove back to Yellow Springs without the incessant talking and video game noise of my boys, the silence was overwhelming and depressing. Rudy Mae was fast asleep within 3 minutes of starting the drive and I felt terribly alone. I put on envelopingly beautiful classical music and instead of wallowing in the quiet, I cherished it. I thought about the positives the summer would bring the boys and soaked in the incredible landscape. I started to feel so much better and actually enjoyed the rest of my drive. It was an indescribably beautiful day.



One Last Walk

I don’t often toot my own horn, but I must say that I really do have well-behaved, polite, caring, truly amazing children. I absolutely do not take full credit. You know- ‘it takes a village’. When I was still living up north, I had the most stupendous support system. Also, once Caleab came into our lives three and a half years ago, he immediately was a positive role model, parent, and companion to them. They have been in awesome schools, and now more than ever, they are involved in a beautiful, encouraging community. Mix it all up in a big pot of love and the result is my brilliant, handsome young men.

I could imagine that getting a baby sister while being a bit older than the traditional age gap between siblings might be a fun novelty at first, but perhaps quickly wear off. Not in this house. Ziven and Calum are still just as taken by her as day one. They love playing with her. They get extremely exciting with every little accomplishment she makes. They love helping her, and helping us by watching her when we need to wash a few dishes or use the toilet. They are so incredibly in love with her that I fully believe that if there was any hardship on their part of leaving us for the summer, that it would not have much to do with Caleab and I, but rather not wanting to leave Rudy Mae.

The Sunday evening before they left, Calum stayed the night at a friend’s house, so Caleab, Ziven, Rudy Mae and I went for a walk, at first out in front of our house, and then we went up to town to walk around a bit. Ziven really enjoyed this special time he got with her, not having to compete with Calum to help hold her hand or pick her up to cross the street. It was very bittersweet.

They were so happy to be out walking together.

What a smile!

Ziven was laughing because she was crying and freaking out because she wanted to keep walking but I just wanted a quick picture. This is as good as we got and I just gave up. Let the girl walk!

She would be happy just to walk around all day long. See ya!

Caleab and Rudy are the sweetest father/daughter pair :)

Walking around Yellow Springs, we stopped for a little rest on this little stone wall.

This was between formal ‘smile!’ photographs. The candidness really captures how much he loves her.

She was being very silly; look at that little gremlin face! She was cracking Ziven up.

I’ll try to not cry

Last August, my oldest two children’s dad, his wife and their baby moved to Minnesota. Seeing as they cannot get the boys every other weekend anymore, we have an informal agreement that we will try to get the boys to them certain holidays and a good chunk of the summer. On Thursday, I drove the boys to Toledo to meet up with their grandparents so that they could complete the drive to Minnesota. It was very hard on me. Even the days before I dropped them off, every time I thought about having to do it, my eyes would fill up. I’m especially worried for Rudy Mae. She is with her big brothers every day and loves them so incredibly much, it just hurts my stomach when I think about her being so sad and confused without them. I digress. My point is that the days building up to Thursday, we were busy making sure that they had everything they needed for their two month trip. On our last full day together, Ziven, Calum, Rudy Mae and I headed out to Target to pick up a few last things. We made it incredibly fun, making sure to get the best out of our last moments before we would not see each other for quite some time.

You can just see how much she adores him.

Calum was feeding her some snacks and taking pictures of her. She was loving every minute of it! Any brother-time is a good time!

They love each other like mad.

Rudy was helping Ziven get his shoes off so he could try on some sandals.

There was an overwhelming amount of sandals/flip-flops, etc, to choose from. I think it gave the boys a headache.

Rudy Mae wanted to walk walk walk forever and I had to help the boys, so after walking a few sections of the store over to get it (somewhat) out of her system, I carried her back to the cart and gave her my purse to try to occupy her.

This was probably the 37th pair he looked at.

And the winner is…

What felt like hours later…

They also got new hoodies. They both looked incredibly handsome in their pick, but one of them seemed to know it ;)

So now they’re gone, and I feel it necessary to point that out, lest you think that I favor my daughter judging by the next two months posts being filled with only her.


Free as a Bird

On Sunday morning, Rudy Mae and I woke up before everyone. We ate a delicious breakfast and as soon as we were done, I could tell she was ready and rarin’ to go. We got dressed, brushed our teeth (a current obsession of hers), grabbed jackets and a camera, and went outside for a walk. Outside walks are a new thing to Rudy Mae. She has been walking for about two months now, but had a vendetta with shoes for the longest time (which I am just fine with- I have never had any of my children in shoes until they were steady walkers and we needed to walk in a public place or the likes. I feel like bare feet is the best way for them to learn). And if you know our outdoors area here, it is riddled with pine needles, twigs, soggy grass and an entire assortment of other maladies that she did not enjoy walking on with bare feet. Then one day, out of the blue, she picked up a shoe and demanded it be put on. Now she does not ever want to come back indoors.

Rudy Mae looking at the birds.

Time to get going.

So very happy to be out on a walk!

Sharing the pinecone with her mama.

Sharing the pine cone with her mama.

It was such a beautiful morning.

As we went around the block, Rudy Mae was intrigued by what seemed to be a garage sale and helped herself up into the driveway. As I went to retrieve her, I saw a family that we know from our local library’s play group that Rudy Mae goes to on Thursday afternoons. We said our hellos and when I joked about Rudy just walking into people’s yards, they laughed, “Well this is the one she should go to! This lady is giving tons of stuff away for free!” I immediately began to have an internal struggle! “Free?! Go look, Erica!” “You are constantly trying to reduce at home and get down to bare essentials- GO HOME!” “But maybe Rudy Mae might find a little book or something…” In the end, Free won, and we walking into the garage. We found some pretty awesome treasures.

It was hard not to go nuts and take all the books!

This sealed the deal to go look inside: the first thing I came across was a box set of the small, hardcover Beatrix Potter books. I grew up on those and although we have a complete treasury in one big book for Roo, it is just not the same as having the little individuals.

There was tons of these old puzzles, but we only grabbed two.

An old Fisher Price “Western World’, basking in the sun.

Wooden toys.

A little wood crate filled with wood planes, trucks, cars, etc. Trees, stop lights and road signs completed the set.

These little people did not necessarily go with Western World, but the lady just hand-picked a few out of a box filled with them.

Rudy Mae helped me wash her new little dishes. It’s a shame I did not get a close up of them. I’ll have to do that some time. In any case, they were those little Tupperwear play dishes from my childhood.

Cup cleaned? I think I’ll drink, then!

Beautiful, thick fabric I am contemplating using as a table cloth.

Caleab and Rudy Mae on our back porch cleaning up Western World.

Now that Western World is all clean, it’s time to play!

“Howdy Partner!”

My latest project

It all started with my 30th birthday. Between my family and my in-laws, I acquired enough cash (and gift-cards) to either pay my local taxes or get myself something nice. As horrible as it sounds, yes I was actually considering using the cash for taxes so they were able to be paid on time. My husband put a quick stop to this by firmly telling me that the money was my birthday present and I needed to spend it on myself. I decided to look closer at our money situation, and we were actually doing okay. I think it is just hard for me to spend money on myself so I automatically went somewhere else in my mind at first. After I decided I would, indeed, get something for ME, I was put to that long, head-ache-inducing task of trying to decide what. In the end, instead of getting a few smaller things, I decided to get something nice (well, nice to me, it may just be a silly ‘nothing’ to other people) and ultimately purchased a Nook Color.

I love my Nook. I am incredibly happy with my purchase and I use it quite frequently, especially while not at home. I am frugal, however (putting it lightly), and when looking at the books or apps, I mostly scour the free options. I kept coming across the free WordPress app but passed it up, as I did not have a WordPress blog. The more I kept seeing the app, though, the more I started considering starting one. My family and I live about 3 hours from most of our families. I try to keep everyone updated by the means that I have, but my cell phone camera is junk and I am very, very selective about what I put up on social networking sites (which I started using only because my Tia Mary asked me to start one as a way of keeping in touch with everyone once I moved).

So here we are. My first post. I have ideas rolling around in this big ol’ head of mine and photographs to boot, but for now, I will wrap this post up. I am just trying to get a feel for all this and am taking a practice round, will you. I have to study this website and the app and hopefully it will eventually become second nature. I do apologize if to my family it seems like blog-overload (we have a few amazing blogs in my family- in addition to my Tia Mary’s, her daughter, my cousin Lauren, has one of the best blogs I read.) I look forward to sharing with you and keeping everyone who cares to read updated on my family’s adventures.

A rare moment when Rudy Mae allows Caleab and I told hold her hands during a walk.