Thursday, January 1, 2015

Awkward Sibling Pic, v12.0 (New Year Edition)

Happy 2015! What better way to start off the new year than with an awkward sibling photo?

The kids are visiting Grandma while Mark and I have a getaway, and she texted this gem:

They were going out to eat and she wanted to take their picture and she said they just... lined up like that.

What? Are they playing a game? Are they a train? Does Nathan have an imaginary sibling in front of him? Is Anneliese trying to look creepy? Why is Nathan wearing two hoods? Why does Charlotte look like nothing has ever been more normal in her life? WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING HERE.

Happy awkward new year, I think.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Festive Two-Ingredient Cocktails

If you're like me, sometimes you want a drinky drink that tastes more festive than pouring a beer or wine, yet doesn't take any more work than that. Enter: the two-ingredient cocktail. Everyone has an arsenal of these, right? Besides just rum + diet, because we aren't 22 anymore? (Haaaa like I will never not want a rum + diet at the beach.)

Anyway here are my favorites from this winter:

Lime vodka + cranberry sierra mist. A classic, right? It was this year's Bumgarner Christmas drink of choice.

Fresh apple cider + Fireball. This is just a poor man's version of a good cider cocktail. Why does artificial cinnamon flavor taste so good? I don't know.
We have been back and forth about whether to do this warm or iced. I vote iced.

Sparking grape juice + gin. Born of a lack of other groceries. Surprisingly delicious.
And yes, if you're the type of person who mixes these things together, you're also the type of person who uses a straw in a wine glass.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Christmas When I Forgot Pants

Well, we had ourselves a merry little Christmas. We did the traveling portion of the celebrations before Christmas this year instead of after, which is different for us -- it made the shopping and prep part feel a little rushed, but once we got out of town and got back, we were kind of glad to be home and settled and relax here, just our little family. It felt like far less frenzy than it does some years.

I managed to get all the way to Huntersville, for four family celebrations within three days, and I packed no pants. Zero. NONES PANTS. I wore leggings and a tunic to church on Sunday, and went straight from there out of town. I had packed a bunch of shirts and sweaters but no pants to go with them, and no other tunics or long tops, and no room in our schedule of gatherings to run to Target, so! I wore that tunic and leggings for daaaaaysssss and the good news is I didn't even burn it afterwards.

Anyway. Pictures of Christmas. My outfit on repeat x1000 is barely pictured. Because I can't stand the sight of it. Because obviously.

Reading on his new Kindle, wearing airplane
slippers and reindeer antlers... #doingitright
Anneliese had been asking for colored streaks in her hair for months,
and then Santa put hair chalks in her stocking! She was... excited.

It might be Christmas if your parents let you ride a scooter in the house.

Charlotte also got a new baby doll (she named it Claire, her middle name)
and an Elsa nightgown which we passed off as a dress-up dress. We are smart. 

That awkward moment when you're trying to pretend-
straighten your hair and your dad keeps photo-bombing you.
Giant wall atlas!
Hey Nathan, your Bumgarner is showing.

These magnatiles we gave Nathan were a hit with *all* the kids. RECOMMEND.

Taking pretend selfies with Daddy. Ahhh child of the new millenium.

All the kids/spouses/grandkids were able to make it to Dad's this year! Whoa!

Anneliese and Grandma

Decorating cookies at Ashley's house with my mom.
I'm not saying my decorating was the best, but... it kinda was.
And then I came home and put on jeans and it was awesome, the end.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Even Fashion

Merry Christmas Eve(n)! Here is a post about holiday fashion.

Part 1: The part where my children look adorable for church, including Nathan who sang in his sweet little robe for one of the early bell services.

Part 2: The part not very many hours before, where my children got dressed in what they thought was appropriate for a rainy day run to Starbucks, whereupon a stranger told them they looked fabulous, and they took her at her word.

Yes, Nathan is wearing shorts, rain boots, a winter hat, and a scarf as a cape. I don't even know.

Even the good outfits have outtakes, though.
Charlotte is all,
Mom. What is with these two. PLEZ.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

December Chaos

Heeeeeeey want to know what December has looked like? Me too! Good thing I took gobs of pictures of the chaos!

Nathan and Anneliese both got random fevers on the one (ONE!) day we were all home and had time to go pick out a tree together. So Charlotte and I went alone, and it should have been fine but it felt oddly sad. Tree day melancholy or something. (She didn't care in the least, she loves doing stuff with a parent all to herself.)

I cleaned out Nathan's desk (he is a baby hoarder, it was quite a project) and I had this whole funny list planned of all the funny and quirky and Nathan-y things I found, but then I found this, and it trumps them all, so here you go. Baby's first boob picture.
Yes, he assures me that is a belly button.

Another Nathan flew into town the first weekend of December and we all drove to Greensboro for our friend Meghan's wedding, which was really fun. So lovely to be back together with all these friends for a night.

Mark got suuuuper fever sick at the reception, but he hung in there long enough to be hella excited when the Clemson tiger (THE Clemson tiger) made an appearance. So, yeah.

Also, I got to shop with Another Nathan at Crabtree mall, which is our favorite thing, and we should have bought lots more (this was before the month got away from us and Christmas Panic set in) but it was still fun and lovely to just wander and brainstorm on our gift lists, like old times.

Monday is the new Black Friday! Or something.

Before he flew home, we also went back to our favorite post-choir beer place, for the first time since this summer. And half of it was boarded up and closed down. We couldn't even tell if it was open, and when we got inside it turns out that half of it (our half!) has been permanently shut down and rented out to a bakery, and it was all very sad and weird and It's A Wonderful Life, like Nathan moved and that whole special place for us is gone now. Weird. So weird. We did not take any pictures because... weird. (At least it protects those memories? It was a moment in time, those Draft House years.)

I took Anneliese to see Frozen on Ice with Andrea and her daughter, and y'all, it was delightful. Not even sarcastic. I don't know what I was expecting (more annoying? more cheesy?) but it was professional and fun and the sets were cool and the skating was amazing and it was full of Disney magic. I don't know why I was surprised. Disney... does things well. It was really fun. I would go again, in a hot minute.

Also, Anneliese wants to take ice skating lessons now. Raise your hand if you never could have seen that coming.

We did our annual Santa's Cookie Worshop™ and made a million cookies in one day, which is always fun and chaotic.

Charlotte colored all over herself with markers, and then didn't seem to understand she was in trouble, and DEAR SELF WHEN WILL YOU EVER LEARN WITH THE MARKERS FTLOG.

Ali wore pink overalls and looked supremely cute in them.

Anneliese wore alllll the colors. All of them. Some days she legitimately cries in the morning if she isn't wearing enough colors. This was not one of those days.

This worksheet about the Polar Express came home in one of Nathan's folders last week. SO LITERAL, THAT CHILD. *sigh*

Friday, December 19, 2014

Moravian Star

I had written this whole thing back many many weeks months ago about how I felt overwhelmed and panicked and stressed in the Christmas prep frenzy (amongst other things) but that seems boring and irrelevant now (hi from January February), so instead, here -- look at this beautiful moravian star:

It is the thing that made me most happy in all of Advent. I have wanted one for years, one that reminds me of the one my Grandma and Grandpa Bumgarner always hung up at their house. And finally found The One. (Right in plain sight, on Amazon.)

To me this star feels like North Carolina and Christmas and memories and nostalgia and warmth and festiveness. I am kicking myself for not getting one sooner, because it really is one of those things that made me happy every time I looked at it, all month.

Our pretty Christmas house!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chipmunk Christmas Dance

You know that Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas album? Of course you know it. Everyone knows it. I'm pretty sure no one actually likes it (confession: I think I secretly do), but everyone knows it. We had it on a record (AN ACTUAL RECORD) when I was a kid, and I vaguely remember that it made my dad's ears bleed so much that he would only play it for us one time per Christmas. We would dance around like maniacs in the living room and shriek and sing along, because that makes it less annoying?


The girls did a little dance thing, a tiny show where they danced to a song with their class. And if there is anything that can convert folks (even my dad!) to finding this song adorable, it's Charlotte, dancing to "hula hoop" - behold:

(If you can't see the embedded video, click here to watch it on YouTube.)

Nothing about that video doesn't make me smile. Nothing.

The girls are in a class of mostly young kids, some a little wilder and more dramatic than others. Neither Anneliese nor Charlotte is the best dancer in the class but they pay attention and they try hard and they listen well, and they are so kind to the other kids. And that's lovelier for me to see than anything else they could do in there.

I'm so proud to be their mommy.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Faith Timeline

Our church does a series of workshops for second graders, for "welcoming children to worship," which I have many Opinions about, but let's just suffice it to say: I think second graders are way too old to be "welcomed" into worship (could/should be much much younger than that), and if we are going to do a weeks-long education and welcome, we could do it a lot better than we do. (Nathan literally learned nothing new. Know where learned about worship? IN WORSHIP. Where he has been for YEARS.) (But! Maybe it was great or helpful for some other people. I don't want to discount that. Also I don't want to take on the whole re-thinking of what/how they do what they do, so I am shutting up.)


As part of the workshop, they did some good activities with the kids and parents together, and one of them was for Nathan to make a timeline of his faith, with Mark and me helping note important markers - like his baptism, or when he started sunday school, or started singing in choir, or when he will do communion and confirmation and such.

But besides those more obvious ones, we talked through lots of ideas, and the things important enough to make it onto his faith timeline are things like:
- the first time he held a real candle on Christmas Eve
- when he started sitting in the chancel area with me (in the choir) on Sunday mornings when Mark isn't there
- when he sat at the organ in worship (with Another Nathan)
- the first time he went to Montreat

It's really lovely to see the things that he has noticed and internalized and assigned meaning to. I like seeing our traditional/educational/parental ideas of what makes an important milestone, all mashed up together with his. I think it's cool and I think it's beautiful, and he makes me melt.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy December! Or Something?

Hey it's December! And I'm still behind from November so let's take a journey through my phone and see what we have been up to, yes?

{HAAomg sometimes I forget I have a blog. Love, Erin in January.}

Anneliese and I had a lunch date after church. Everyone else was sick and/or crabby, and we wanted ZaxBEE's (that's how we pronounce it, we are just cool like that) and can I just say she is a delightful companion?

I have no idea exactly how this happened, but I walked away for three minutes and walked back... and clearly some toddler achievement has just been unlocked.

I'm not sure what's happening here either, but I'm pretty sure she is posing for her senior year pictures. The awkward, oh how she nails it.

I took Nathan to his school literacy night (and book fair) and he picked out several new things to read: a book of beautiful things people have built from Legos, and a biography about the Wright brothers. Why so opposed to good ol' fiction, bro?

Mark sits down with the girls, any evenings he is home, to watch Daniel. "Watch." I like to joke that Daniel is his unisom. Because... yeah, every time.

I took Ali and Charlotte to the (nicer) grocery store (with the fun carts) and they had a blast driving together. I can't believe Ali is old enough to play like this. Wasn't Charlotte just the baby?

Anneliese got her friend Beatrice a duplicate of her favorite shirt, for a birthday present. Yes, that's a half donut, half rainbow. No, I do not understand it. Yes, it is awesome. Yes, they planned ahead to wear them on the same day. Yes, they delight me.

This is Nathan's DNA bracelet, because of course it is.

Also, NOW that it is December, let's all enjoy some good holiday clothing. With a t-rex on it. Obviously.

We have now reached the "what am I even blogging about?" portion of today's post. The end.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Stuttering, and a Poop Joke

So, this is a thing I haven't said much about on the internet, but Charlotte is having a rough time talking this fall. She went from being a perfectly appropriately-fluent three-year-old this August, to... barely being able to get a thought out in September. Over just a matter of weeks, truly.

Like, complete breakdown in communication. I know this sounds weird, with her being right here - but I missed her. I didn't know what she was thinking, and she was so easily frustrated that she basically broke down into tears any time she needed to communicate a thought beyond a few words.

It sucked, y'all.

And it only took a tiny bit of googling (and a few gently concerned questions from her teachers at school) to realize her stuttering falls into the "severe" category, which sounds, well... severe.

Anyway, we took her for a speech assessment through the early intervention people (well, not them, exactly, but the county people who do that for preschool-aged kids) and it turns out yep! she stutters! badly! and she qualifies for full speech therapy through the county! So, bad and good.

They sent me away with a stack of books and DVDs about stuttering and speech disorders and how to be a parent advocate, and paperwork to start up her IEP with the school system, and suddenly WHOA this is a whole new world for us.

Okay so here's the deal. She will be fine. Speech therapy is very effective for stuttering, and Charlotte is pretty textbook in how she struggles. There are 44 phonemes in the English language, and she gets stuck on about 20 of them (yikes). She does most of the classic severe-stutterer things, like: repeating sounds at the beginnings of words and syllables (not the words themselves, which is stammering, which is something different - a more normal disfluency that isn't actually a speech problem), explosions of sound at a high volume to force some of her sounds out, and dragging out some sounds (like mmmmmmommy).

Anyway, it's a really Known Thing, this problem and its treatment. Almost all stutterers can be therapied out of it, and we should have no worries about long-term fluency. So that's not the main concern, surprisingly enough.

The main concern, apparently, is the psychological stuff that comes with difficulty in communicating. This is especially true for young kids. Learning that it takes too much effort to talk, or you will be interrupted or your words inserted for you, or that people don't have the time to hear you, or might tease you, etc etc etc - that'll eff a kid right up, and can have effects into adulthood. (Not that surprising, right?)

So while the professional therapists will do the work with her of making sounds and teaching tricks and workarounds, our job is to make sure she is heard. Like, endless patience in letting her get her words out. No interrupting her, ever. No supplying words for her. In general, convincing her that whatever she has to say is something we want to listen to, and that it's always worth the effort for her to tell us what she's thinking. We have to be very aware of our body language and facial expressions and we all (even Nathan and Anneliese) do lots of turning and facing her and kneeling down to be close when she wants to tell us something.

And y'all. It has been sort of... well, humongously relationship-changing, this pattern of really intentional listening. I know, that shouldn't be shocking. But it makes such a difference.

Anything she wants to tell me these days, no matter how silly or inane, I care about it in a way I didn't used to. She will sometimes take a full ninety seconds to tell me something like how she put Sheepie under her blanket (still bank-o-link) because it's naptime, or how someday she would like to wear a hat (?) - but if those are the things she wants to tell me, then make no mistake: I WANT TO HEAR IT. It's no small thing, the effort and energy it takes her to talk! And she is using it on me! It's an honor to listen to it. It really is. And that's never how I've thought about preschool chattiness before. Um, to say the least. Ha.

Okay anyway that's not what I meant for this post to be about.

So, she's actually doing way better now. Ranking every day on a scale of 1 to 5 helps overall progress, and overall progress is good. And that's just with what we are doing at home which has seemed to improve her confidence, which  often means she talks more - which all counts as practice. When we get into the meat of the speech therapy over the next couple of months, I imagine it will get even better than the improvement she's already made.

There are some days that are still turrible, but there are some that are good -- so good that she talks like most any three-year-old would, like what we remember from this summer, and we get a little giddy at her sweet voice and happy easy chattiness.

All that to say, she was doing some great talking one night, and these days that means we bust out the phone to get it on video... and then she told a poop joke. Sigh.

(If you can't see the embedded video, click here to watch it on YouTube.)

(Still worth it for her tiny voice, telling me something! Anything! Worth it.)

(And, secretly bursting with pride anyway. Such! Good! Talking!)