Self-Portrait by Rudy Mae

Caleab, Rudy Mae, and I made a very short-lived trip up north (the boys are with their other family) for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It was hectic and filled with illness, so much to my dismay, I barely took any photographs at all. When looking through the tiny few I did have, it brought a huge smile to my face to see a photograph that Rudy Mae had taken of her feet and legs. And so in lieu of any photographs of my own, today I present you with the wrap-up of our trip up north with a self-portrait by Rudy.


Bath time

Let me get it out of the way: our bathroom is surely the number one worst room in our house for lighting but I really enjoy documenting all parts of our day. Now that it’s been noted, let’s move on.

Rudy Mae is getting so big and so bright. She amazes us every day and makes us die laughing every minute. She’s got quite the personality. Today at bath time, she was trying to unzip her sleeper herself and was having a bit of trouble. When I stepped in to help, she didn’t just forget about it and let me do it, she had to watch very intently as if to mentally document what I was doing differently so that she could do it on her own next time. I really love this girl.

Bath time.

Also, do you know how much better bath time is when you are serenaded through the whole process?


Early Christmas

The boys go with their father’s family for Christmas every other year, so on those years we have to do our Christmas with the boys early, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it until January. This year our Christmas fell on Sunday, December 16. All around it was incredibly delightful. The boys loved their presents and for the first time, I really felt like Rudy understood what was going on when it came to opening gifts.

What made this year a little extra special for us parents is that for the first time since 2008, Caleab and I bought each other gifts. We didn’t have a huge spending limit, but it was the thought and love put into each present that gave them each tremendous value (wow, am I corny). The five gifts that Caleab gave me proved to me all over again just how well he knows me. I absolutely loved them all, which included a handful of books (I count a boxed set of 5 books as one present plus one stand alone book), a record, a bag that I’ve had my eye on for some time and, for your viewing pleasure, the cutest little Bilbo Baggins I ever did see.

Shall we be best friends forever and ever, Bilbo? Good, I think we should, too.

Shall we be best friends forever and ever, Bilbo? Good, I think we should, too.

My Cure

If you asked me with what, I could not even tell you, but I feel like I have been super busy lately. I feel bad about slacking on the blog. To rid my brain of this guilt, I am doing a ‘hold-over’ post, with a few photos of just life, or most likely, a lot of Miss Rudelle Mae. The dates of the photographs range from June 2, 2012-July 1, 2012. Enjoy.

Calum Asher, my second born. This was the first day we had the camera, testing different settings out, etc. Even with that look on his face, he’s still terribly handsome.

Penny Lane is a pretty cute, very loving cat. She is probably one of Rudy Mae’s best friends.

Fluffy Kitty is an old cranky man. His zest for life is all but gone. Our love for him may be the only thing keeping his heart beating, cause God knows he’s one old stinkin’ cat.

This kid. He makes me smile.

Caleab and Rudy Mae walking up to switch the laundry.

This is too cute.

When Rudy sees something of interest, she is always very intense in her looking and showing.

She has this one belly laugh that is so deep and funny, and this little Goblin Grin usually accompanies it.

Obsessed with any technology, my first born, ZIven Keenan, is one of my go-to’s for computer help.

Why do my boys barely smile when the camera comes out? Still handsome as ever!

(Trust me, we do clean her face!) Calum was feeding her snacks and taking her pictures. She thinks it is the funniest thing in the world when people put things on their heads and especially if afterward, they then put it on her head .

She was supposed to be taking a nap, but to no avail. She instead decided to rip the bookmark out of my book and play with it (a bookmark, I might add, from China, from my Aunt Gloria when she used to live there). Also, she is in love with that Star Wars pillow case, constantly pointing at the characters, most especially Chewbacca. In addition to the point, he also gets a loud growl.

Rudy was a dancing queen that weekend at Grandma and Grandpa Wyant’s.

Three generations of cuteness: Grandpa Dennis, Dad Caleab, and Toddler Rudy Mae.

A big smile from my baby. This girl is genuinely truly happy. It, in turn, makes me truly happy.

Excited to be playing with musician extraordinaire, Daddy.

There are plenty more where these came from. I had to eventually stop myself when I realized the post was going to be miles long. At least next time I have a lull in my blogging, I’ll know just what to do, and have the means to do it.

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.

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.