I can’t believe how fast the days go by – already February. I’ve been working long hours, and sometimes don’t get home until 10pm. A lot is going on: Crystal let us know she thinks her baby dropped, and we are waiting on her results from her doctor’s visit. Sean-Daniel and Melodie continue to be a joy, and are still surprising me with something new. We still haven’t taken down the Christmas tree.
Sean-Daniel is pretty much self sufficient. He’s able to dress himself, put on socks and shoes, fix himself a jelly sandwich, and if he were stronger, could probably pour his own milk. He getting better at spelling, and recognizes some words. He has also gotten quite a repertoire of songs from Sunday School, and sing-along movies we have at home. He seems interested in joining the children’s choir.
Melodie has become more of a chatterbox, and is quite bossy. I had come up with a list of rules for her to memorize (no running, no jumping, no screaming, no pushing, and no hitting), and she enforces them on other kids. She also keeps getting in a lot of trouble, which is a constant frustration for Ruth and I (coloring on the floor, scratching the kitchen chairs which Grandpa Falconnier made for us) She even frustrates Sean-Daniel. However, she can still turn on the charm, and is very affectionate most of the time.
Last month we had the usual birthday celebrations for Sean-Daniel and Melodie, and then another one with Langston. Melodie and Langston are 1 day apart. We still had our Christmas tree up, so Ruth decorated it. Ruth put in 3 sets of candles (5, 3, and 3), and after we sang they all three blew out the candles.
Melodie is intermittently using the potty now. She gets a treat when she does. She now knows where the candy is hidden – giving her a new avenue of getting in trouble. After the latest incident, of swiping and eating 7 Hershey kisses, I asked her why she took the candy, and she replied “I was hungry”.
Crystal’s doctor advised her the baby had not dropped, but had positioned himself. She said she is ready for this baby to be born. Her due date is still the end of March.
“Josiah is Born” Vacation
As is our custom for such a long trip we rented a Dodge Caravan, and we were loaded up and ready to go by noon. After a few hours driving we stopped at a rest stop along the highway in Indiana and spent an hour picnickingg and walking around. It seems to make the trip more enjoyable when we make stops like that. We made it as far as Tennessee, and spent the night at my Aunt Ruth’s.
Before leaving today we went to visit my mom’s gravesite at the Oak Grove cemetery. Then, after having breakfast with Aunt Ruth, we set of for Gatlinburg where we visited the Ripley’s Aquarium. We had gone there when we went down for Crystal’s wedding, but the kids didn’t seem to remember. Last year they had a section for deep sea fish, and this time the theme was pirates.
After about 3 hours at the aquarium we headed for the Smokey Mountains, another favorite stop. Unfortunately, Clingman’s Dome, our intended agenda, was closed for construction. However, the view from the parking area is still impressive. Also, when we got down at the bottom of the mountain we saw several Elk grazing in a large field. We just had to stop and get a picture.
We ended up getting to Crystal and Jon’s house at 10pm. They were very happy to see us, and we got to see our grand baby for the first time.
Today I took the kids to the Greeneville Zoo. There is a playground near the parking lot, so it was about an hour before we actually made it into the zoo. At around 3pm Melodie had let me know she was “soooo hungry” for the 50th time, so we went home.
Today the kids and I we went up to Paris Mountain State Park, and we hiked on the Fire Tower trail. We had just got started when Sean-Daniel kept asking if anyone was thirsty. After awhile he started asking if anyone was hungry. After awhile I started getting thirsty and hungry. We walked for quite a long time, but since it was at a snails pace we didn’t get very far. Melodie started asking me to carry her, and Sean-Daniel kept asking if we could go back. Finally, we turned around and went back to the van. They were sooo exhausted, and acted like we got back just in time. I notice, though, that when we went to McDonalds, they had no trouble playing for an hour in the play land.
I thought I’d give the kids (and myself) a break today, and we just went to a local park that had the usual multi faceted recreations stuff. Today, we were able to get Crystal out of the house for seafood.
We took another break, and stayed home. The kids played in the yard.
Today Ruth came out with the kids and I. We went to Table Rock park. It was another beautiful day today, but it was expected to get up in the 90’s, so we left early.
Just as happened before, when I’ve gone hiking with the kids, we were not able to complete an entire trail – Sean-D and Melodie just can’t seem to walk very fast. But the trail was very nice, and there were a couple of creeks that ran along with cascading water. It was very peaceful and the water cooled the air.
We attended Sunday School and Worship Service with Jon and Crystal. Since they are staying in the parsonage the church is conveniently across the parking lot.
Today was Jon’s one day off, so we wanted to do something fun with him. We had decided to save a trip out to Hollywild until he could go. It’s called Hollywild because some of the animals they have were used in movies and TV commercials, but have since been retired. The highlight of the tour was that they used old school buses that have been modified for safari. It was neat to get out in the open, and have all the animals run up to the bus looking for bread. After the safari we went and saw all the animals on display. Of course the kids ran off first to see the goats, and we got a special treat. A baby goat had just been born about 15 minutes earlier.
We stayed at Hollywild well past closing, and as the sun went down most of the animals started getting more active. Everyone had a great time – even Josiah.
Yesterday took alot of energy out of everyone. It had been in the upper 80’s. Sean-D got quite a farmers tan. Today we just went to the library and signed out a bunch of video’s for the kids. Later in the day I took the kids to a local park to play.
Since it was supposed to rain, Ruth and I and the kids went to the local indoor swimming pool. Later in the day we went to the Church to hear from some students, attending Bob Jones, who will be going to South Korea on a missions trip.
Jon and I toured the Bob Jones art museum – everyone else stayed home today. The museum was very large, and had quite a few Catholic art. Unfortunately no pictures allowed.
Today everyone (except Jon) went to Falls Park in downtown Greenville. It’s a beautiful park that had a small river running through it. The rive had alot of cascades and waterfalls. Ruth and the kids found a place where they could take off their socks and shoes and put their feet in the rushing water while Crystal and sat on a bench and watched.
Our final day in Greenville. This morning I went with Jon to a men’s breakfast. Then this afternoon everyone went to Furman University. They have a beautiful campus, and we had a picnic by the lake.
Sometimes the best times are those that are unplanned. Today was one of them. After getting home from evening services we started to get ready for supper when I noticed Melodie wasn’t in the house. I went outside and found her standing by the cars and quietly looking around at the trees. I walked up to her, and she asked if I wanted to sit down on the lawn chairs. We sat talking for a bit (she’s 3 so it wasn’t a very deep conversation), and I asked if she would like it if I made a campfire. A little later, as the fire got going, Ruth and Sean-Daniel came out to sit with us, and I reminded Ruth that she had a lot of ripe strawberries in the garden. It didn’t take much to get the kids to help, and as the sun was going down we snacked on fresh strawberries by campfire light.
David is home for a few weeks this summer. He will be working at his old job while his boss is out of town. He brought his computer with him and also plans on working on his website designing job that he has in California.
29 May (MEMORIAL DAY)
Today Ruth, I, the 2 kids, David, Amber, and Ruth’s parents went to Bellevue Park for a picnic. It was a lot hotter than last year – the temp when we got home was 92 degrees. Ruth made a delicious chicken salad sandwiches, and her mom made tuna fish sandwiches. After we ate, because of the heat, Ruth and her parents stayed in the shade instead of taking our traditional walk around the park. All the kids, big and little, played. I sort of floated back and forth. Mostly I stayed in the shade talking to Johnny. I enjoyed talking to Ruth’s dad as always. He’s an old Frenchman who has a lot of stories – some of when he was growing up in France. After about 3 hours our shade started retreating, so we packed up and headed home.
What a weekend! Crystal, Jon, and Josiah, on the spur of the moment, came to visit all the way from South Carolina because Jon had off Monday. David is still here, but we had plenty of room. I had already planned on some events for the weekend, so we had plenty to do.
On Saturday we packed a picnic, and headed out to Fort DeChartres for the annual Rendezvous. Every year folks from near and far come (rendezvous) to the Circa 1700’s French Fort, and reenact living conditions from the period clothing, camping with canvas tents and teepee’s, and campfire cooking. As soon as we parked we had our picnic, and then went on in. At the rendezvous there are always these side shows, and today we saw a couple of girls who were contortionists. There are also a couple of things that are becoming traditional when we go to the rendezvous. One is I always get the homemade root beer and ice-cream, and another is we get some buffalo jerky. The man who sells the jerky always has a mounted buffalo head at the front of his area, and the kids like to pet it. Sometimes we’ll buy something one of the crafts, but this year we didn’t see anything that caught our eye.
On Sunday, after church, we headed out to the Missouri Botanical Garden for the Bonsai display. Bonsaiing is one of my hobbies, but I’ve never been able to keep a bonsai through the winter. I found someone who was helpful, and I think I’ll try again. We also have some traditions when we go to the garden. We weren’t able to do them all on this trip, but we never fail to visit the bridge where we feed the fish.
17 Jun 06
David has gone back to California after visiting for a month. Ruth said that Sean-D and Melodie cried at the airport when they had to say goodbye to their big brother.
22 Jun 06
Today Ruth and I celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary. As usual we spread out the celebration over a couple of days. Among the usual dining out and card I was able to get her a very beautiful flower arrangement which she loved immensely.
08 July 06
It was crunch time for Ruth to get ready for Vacation Bible School, so I offered to take the kids and go the the Botanical Garden. They have a new Children’s Garden, so we spent most of the day there. We had a lot of fun. It was more of an adventure park than a garden. There were a couple of slides, a tree house, a sand box, a climbing rock and logs, and there were some old-time props like a general store, so the kids could role play.
Crystal, Jon, and Josiah came to visit for a few days, and left today. My grandson is 4 months old and he’s huge. He is holding his head up and grabbing things with a strong grip. While they were here some of the family got together on Saturday and went to Council Bluff Lake, outside Potosi Missouri. Unfortunately, I had to work.
Today Sean-Daniel began his first day of Kindergarten at Berean Christian School. I’m a little excited, and to be honest, I think I overdid the speech I gave him the night before. Sometimes you have to just trust God and let go. He had homework the first day – writing small and capital letter “A” over and over, and matching numbers.
Ruth mentioned that Melodie is missing her brother when he’s at school, and wants to go to school also.
Sean-Daniel has been moving quickly in his studies – math and word building. The kids do a lot of the work at school, and if they don’t finish they bring it home. Sean-Daniel is also doing extra curricular work on the computer – for fun.
Today was the first day for Awana’s. Melodie starts as a Cubbie, and Sean-Daniel as a Spark.
This weekend was the annual Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden. I look forward to going every year. We started off on the right foot by finding a parking spot right away. Then I found out that because I have a Family membership we all got in free. To top it off it was a beautiful day. Cloudy but no rain, and the temp a cool 73 degrees. Once we got in the first thing we did was eat. They had all the traditional food like sushi and rice dishes. Ruth got some seaweed. Sean-Daniel and Melodie stuck with chips. As usual, we didn’t have the time or energy to see all the events, but we did see my favorite – martial arts. And for the first time I saw the Sumo wrestlers – I missed them last year.
Today, Melodie completed her bear hug brochure which introduces the kids to the Cubbies program. She was able to recite 1 John 4:10, Romans 3:23, and Romans 5:8. The Sparks program that Sean-D is in is a little more difficult. He has to pass through some steps before he can be an official Sparks club member. It’s not really too hard. He just has to recite the Sparks motto and key verse, the Pledge of Allegiance to the American and Awana Flag, and then be able to sing the Sparks song.
Well, I was afraid this would eventually happen. I have heard stories by other parents, and I had expected it would happen to Sean-Daniel. Today Ruth called me downstairs to help with an emergency. Melodie had stuffed rocks in both ears, and Ruth was able to get all but one out. I was able to get the last one out, and the doctor confirmed the next day that she was fine. When Ruth asked Melodie why, she was told “I just wanted earrings”. It took a stretch of the imagination, but we finally figured it out. So, the next day, after the doctor’s visit, Ruth took Melodie to the mall, had her ears pierced, and she got her first set of earrings.
Ruth took Sean-Daniel to the dentist this week. He has always had problems with them, but the dentist said not to worry they will be out soon enough. If fact, a couple of the bottom ones are wiggling.
This weekend we spent in Bloomington Illinois where we met up with Ruth’s Sisters family from Chicago. The first day, after checking into the hotel, was to visit the Discovery Museum. There were 3 floors of children’s activities that I think the adults enjoyed as much as the kids. We stayed a total of 3 hours. When we got back to the hotel we spent the rest of the night at the indoor pool and Jacuzzi.
The next day we went to Miller’s Zoo. It was kind of small, but had a lot of interesting animals and exhibitions. Ruth and her sister had exchanged some gifts for the kids, and one of them was a Tutu for Melodie. She loved it, and wanted to wear it to the zoo – in her own special way of course.
The third day we had to get back home for the kids Awana’s club. We got home just in time to get their stuff and head off to church. Melodie insisted on wearing her pretty Tutu.
Happy birthday to me! On the 16th I turned 45 years old. Because of some illnesses though we had to spread out the celebration over the week. Ruth made me some delicious baby back ribs with pomegranate BBQ sauce, and pumpkin cake.
Sean-D took another step toward man-hood, and lost his first tooth today. He had been eating a bagel, and it broke of in the piece he had in his mouth. Ruth told me he insisted she dig the tooth out.
Sean-D lost his other loose tooth this evening. This time he had asked Ruth to help it along. There was a little bleeding which concerned Melodie. I guess seeing your brother’s teeth falling out can be disconcerting. I explained to her that this was all natural, and that she would be losing her teeth too. In retrospect that was probably not a good thing to say.
At bedtime we had another session of “Stories from my mind”. I started this about a year ago when the kids wanted me to read a bedtime story. I was real tired, and didn’t feel like reading, so I just made up a short story. It eventually turned into a ritual where we all take turns telling stories from our minds. Melodie’s stories are quite nonsensical, involve jumping around. Sean-Daniel’s are scary stories that involve a ghost, that eats you in pieces, and frequent trips to the dark closet. Lately we added glow sticks, with the lights out, and the glow stick up to the speakers face to add drama. The trips to the closet are now even scarier.
Today is Ruth’s dad’s birthday. John Falconnier is 78 years old. Sean-Daniel made him a birthday card, and we went to their house to celebrate.
We spent the past weekend at Ruth’s sisters house in Chicago. We took Amtrak train both ways, and Lydia and Neil graciously chauffeured us everywhere. We had a great time – especially the kids. It was cool to see Sean-Daniel and Melodie playing so well with their cousin. While we were there we managed to see the Lincoln Zoo and the Field Museum. By our last day of vacation the kids were wiped out.
We celebrated Thanksgiving at Ruth’s mom and dad’s house.
01 Dec (Ice Storm 2006)
Yesterday winter officially started – with a vengeance. The 29th of November the temp was 70F, and the next day it was in the 30’s. It rained all day yesterday, and as soon as the drops hit they froze. At 9pm we lost power, and I started a couple of light sticks for the kids, and lit candles. It was very quiet, and we could hear the cracking and snapping of tree limbs as the night wore on. In the morning we still had no power and it was 55F in the house – outside it was 20F. We looked outside, and saw tree limbs all over the yard. Ruth commented on how her garden was so pretty with all her herb and plants covered with ice. There was only about an inch of snow, and the roads were already clear. It was a beautiful drive to work. There were sections of woods that looked like the trees were made of glass, and when the sun broke through they sparkled like prisms.
This morning there was still no power at the house. We’d been staying out as much as possible because the inside temperature was hanging around 45F. Yesterday we went to a restaurant for Ruth’s Mom’s birthday, and today we celebrated my Dad’s birthday/ early Christmas party at a restaurant in Missouri. Fortunately, when we got home late this evening, the power had been on for about an hour already. We arrived at a nice warm house.
Today the kids and I went hiking at Cahokia Mounds, or as Melodie says “Hokia Pounds. It got up to 65F which is probably a record for this time of year. The ice storm a couple of weeks ago (what strange weather) did quite a lot of damage, and there was even a big tree toppled across the path. We had a wonderful peaceful time. I’ve learned the kids do better when I let them have a lot of water breaks. We even laid down on a blanket for awhile. Sean-D made his hike more adventuresome by consulting his “map” to direct us toward the treasure. And even though there were clear paths around the limbs, his map told him to go through them.
Tonight Ruth made a gingerbread house. We got it for an early Christmas present from my dad and Linda.
Tonight Sean-Daniel was in his first school play. His scene was to come in with his class and sing Joy to the World and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. A small part, but it’s a start. Unfortunately the lighting wasn’t good, and they were too far away for a picture.
The family spent Christmas Eve at Ruth’s brother’s house in Missouri. The theme for the food was Mexican/Puerto Rican in my honor. Cami went above and beyond by making “Pastelle’s” – a dish I’ve only had in Puerto Rico. She is also great with kids. She had a gingerbread man making party and a piñata for them.
Ruth and I had the family over to our house on Christmas day. Ruth put up her sparkely tree with David’s help. He has been a regular dynamo in helping Ruth keep the house all together. He will be going back to California this week to get ready for Air Force Basic Training – he goes in January.