Monday, May 28, 2012

Out of Training

I'm officially out of training...

training wheels that is.

A few weeks ago I told Mommy I was ready.

And within two minutes, literally, I was riding by myself without training wheels.


What can I say? I'm a natural. Perhaps I'll be participating in the Tour De France. Who knows.

All I know is that ever since taking those wheels off, I haven't looked back. And I've yet to have a wreck. Probably because I wasn't looking back. It's always a good idea to keep your eyes looking ahead. Unless your mom is taking a picture of you, then give a quick smile and revert your eyes back to the road.

So watch out biking world and get used to seeing this view of me. I just don't think you'll be able to catch up with me.

Catch ya on the roads.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Watch Out!

Birthdays, well, they're just awesome. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't about the presents. Because, at four years old, it's about the presents.

I officially own my first gun. Well, two for that matter. My awesome neighbors got me a Nerf gun. And then, lo and behold, on my birthday morn I was surprised with another gun, a marshmallow gun at that! Mommy and Daddy got me that along with my Care Bear.

A gun that shoots marshmallows, what is there NOT to like about that?!

Those of you who know me also know I'm passionate about Angry Birds. So, when Grandmama got me an ANGRY BIRDS SHIRT along with the game, Angry Birds...well, I was THRILLED. You will notice my Angry Birds shirt in the first picture. It says, "This is what awesome looks like." I put it on at my party and didn't take it off until Sunday afternoon the next day.

Yes, I wore it to church.

As for the game, Mommy and I have some techniques to perfect but I already know it's a winner.

Man, I love birthdays.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mario Party

I'm four now. That's right. You know what that means.

I'm taller.

I'm almost as tall as Mommy. Or so I keep telling her. When you turn four you get a Mario Paw-ty. And it's awesome.

I picked out this cake. Mommy made it.

And, like any big event, there's a pregame show. For me, that meant lots of pictures in front of the fireplace. At least I was in good company. Mommy had to draw Bowser (you'll see him later) but I told her that wasn't enough. We needed Mario, Toad, Yoshi, Luigi, King Boo, and the Princess (per Hannah's request). When you're the birthday boy it's pretty awesome because, well, you get what you want.

I'm more of a Luigi fan at heart but having a "Luigi Party" didn't sound quite right. Sorry Luigi.

Then, the real party began because, my friends came.

It was time for us to warp into Mario world.
All those eggs Mommy blew out and stuffed with confetti piece by piece over the past few weeks were hidden for us to find, you know, to throw at Bowser in order to free the princess.

And, like any Mario game, we had to punch bricks to get coins and fireballs. A note to Mommy here, we may need to perfect this part next time. 

This next part was not for the faint of heart. King Boo's ghosts were everywhere. Our mission: kill them. I gave a few a mean pop.

And, ping, a coin appeared. Can you see it?

After playing Shy Guy says on our way to Bowser's castle (those pictures were boring), we finally arrived. So, with my eggs in hand I began the demolition of Bowser.

Check out my arm. I think I'm ready to take my skills to the basketball court.

Na-fan (as I like to call him) shattered his egg. Mommy thought we must show this picture so that we can better enjoy the confetti she painstakingly placed piece by piece into these eggs that were destroyed in a matter of minutes. Sorry, she made me write that.

We did it. We defeated Bowser. And we rescued the Princess (not pictured but she was there).

After the party we delved into the cake. And of course I opened all my awesome presents.

And, like all good things, it had to come to an end. But a tasty end. My friends went home with these tasty chocolate Wii remotes along with a character from Mario.

All in all, I had a blast. And I'm already thinking ahead to next year's party.

It's a toss up between Angry Birds and Spider Man.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mommy's Moment: 4 Years Old

Today we celebrate four years of life with our Grant.

Before I had kids, I had a pretty clear picture of what I wanted our son to be like. Years ago when I worked at the Child Development Center at college there was this sweetheart of a boy, Brooks. He captured my heart. And I thought, "I hope I have a boy like this one day."

Years later, there was a sweet little boy who used to go to our church and the same thought crossed my mind, "I hope, if we ever have a boy, he's like him."

A couple of years later, we had a boy. And over these four years I've had the priviledge to see him develop. And I can confidently say that the Lord created the most perfect boy for me. I could not have picked or drawn up or conjoured up a better boy.

Is he perfect? haha. NO WAY. In fact, Grant has challenged me beyond belief. His entry into the world was a good foreshadowing of the rough days ahead. I like to say, he's a passionate sort of fellow.

And part of that is that he's tender hearted.

Oh is he so tender hearted.

He's all boy but he still loves to come and snuggle. He gently pats Kate's back when she's around. And he tells us ALL, SEVERAL TIMES, he loves us.

He's challenged me the most in the field of discipline. And when he whines, well, now-a-days I hear my own voice in him at that age (thanks to video recording).

He loves his blankey. He loves television and any video game but especially Super Mario Brothers. His best friend is Hannah (as stated in our new birthday questionaire tradition). He loves to be held, still.

I remember when I was pregnant with Kate Hannah told Grant, "You know when Mommy has the baby she won't be able to hold you anymore."

That broke my heart a little. Because, she was right in a small way. With a baby came a bit of growing up on Grant's part. And yes, the carrying around of Grant did slow down. But it hasn't stopped. Mainly because well, he's so darn nagging that I can't help but NOT carry him up the stairs. And I'm glad I do.

He loves fruit snacks, well, any snack. The birthday questionaire also asked, what is something your mom always says?

He answered, "you can't have a snack."

Yes, he asks ALL. THE. TIME. Right after breakfast. While I'm making lunch. Righ after lunch. So on and Son.

I hate to see what the grocery bill will look like in the coming years. And I feel for you mothers of multiple boys.

Those are just a few thoughts on my wonderful Grant. And I'll leave you with a few more with these pictures.

When some random man who came in the delivery room for "Operation Hurry Up and Suck that Baby Out," he guessed Grant weighed, oh, about 7 lbs. upon putting him on the scale. Sorry, add 2 more pounds and twelve ounces to that. The whole delivery was a bit maddening from having the nurse doze off while I was pushing. Yes, I caught her. Eyes closed and she WAS NOT praying. To the nurse who told me to quit screaming and push after having pushed for two hours only to keep hearing "We can't get him over that bone." I guess my pelvic bone. For good reason. And in a fit of desperation I remember thinking, "I'm going to die here, on this table. This is it." I was being dramatic. I'll confess. But I had no clue how the good Lord was going to get him out of me. He did. With a vaccum. Thank the Lord for vaccums. And thank the Lord for epidurals. I know many people go al natural..but I am thankful that the juice was flowing. I'll stop there. Happy FIRST birthday little one. You were worth the

And this picture. Hannah is Kate's age now in this picture. Such a baby. But I thought she was such a big girl then. I remember the nurse at the pediatrician asked me how old Hannah was when we went to Grant's first appointment. "20 months," I said. "Wow, she's just a baby herself," she replied. I didn't think so. My, how my perspective has now changed. Not quite 20 months and already a big sister. But she's owned that role so nicely too. She's a great big sister. I love that girl.

That big cheesy grin was there even at age one when we introduced him to his own Wheely Bug. Though excited, it wasn't as big of a hit with him as it was with Hannah at that age. At least it makes a good picture. I remember at his 1  year check up I asked the pediatrician, "Is it normal for a one year old to throw major fits, rolling all over the floor and screaming for minutes on end?" He said yes. And that began the discipline season which, of course, continues today. I'm happy to say the floor fits are few and far between this, three years later. Happy One year birthday baby boy.

At least his early start with the fit throwing didn't make me dread the terrible twos. In fact, I embraced them thinking the two's couldn't be as bad as the one's. And they must not have been because it doesn't stand out. But that blonde hair sure did. Moving away from that baby look, my little two year old was looking more like a boy. A cutie pie. Happy second birthday baby boy.

When he turned three, Grant grew a mustache. John is kind of hairy so it made sense to us. Or, oh yeah, maybe that was for his Pirate Party. This marked the beginning of, "Oh yeah, I love birthday parties, when do I get to have another one?" Happy 3rd Birthday Grant.

And now, here we are, four years old. And yes, that's a Care Bear. Our buddy Grant has wanted a Care Bear since he was able to walk. Seriously. So, I gave in. I found this guy on Ebay and snagged him. Obviously, Grant is happy he is able to finally care for his very own Care Bear. The Care Bear looks pretty happy too. We'll share more pictures from his big celebration. But this one is my favorite. Pure joy. Happy fourth birthday buddy! You're a pretty awesome guy and I am so thankful I get to share in your life. WE LOVE YOU.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Video for You: You are My Sunshine

We're on a roll over here at the Harman Hood serving up some memorable moments for you.

I've heard people say, "I've been singing since I was a baby." I mean, I think that's a prerequisite to get on American Idol. I always thought, "yeah right." I know, real sensitive huh?

Hannah and Grant never started singing at a really young age, heck, they don't sing a ton now.

But Kate, my little Kate, well, she is quite the little singer around the house. It just started. She moseys along the house and in a sing song way makes music. It's really sweet. Maybe, just maybe, we have a real singer on our hands (it didn't come from me as you'll hear/heard from the video).

Lately I've been singing "You are My Sunshine" along with other songs when I rock Kate before bed at night. And, lo and behold, she has started joining in. To the untrained Kate speak ear this may sound like a bunch of gibberish, but she's singing, and she's singing some words. She sings, "happy," "bay" for gray, "oo" for you and "badu" for love you. Of course, she says "baby" over and over. I added a word or two of my being one of them.

This is a video to most that may seem uneventful but it's a moment I want to always remember. It's so sweet and I'm glad I caught it on tape. And I'm happy to share it with you.

A Sister's Investment

Here's my sister, Hannah. She's also known as my second mom.

She treats me well. Most of the time. You know, as long as I don't pull her hair or  try to comb her hair in the bathtub. And if I keep my teeth to myself. That's always a mistake when I forget that one. Obviously Yo Gabba Gabba knew what they were doing when they wrote the hit, "Don't Bite Your Friends," or sister for that matter. Powerful. Anyways, she shows me secrets in life, like why it's wise just to smile at the awkward bug and not actually pick it up.

Did I mention she's a fast runner? Real fast.

I am not. But, she's patient and agrees to move at my speed...a brisk walk. I think I'm bowlegged.
That's not going to look nice in evening gown wear.

Okay, who am I kidding...I can run with the best of them. Sometimes I deem it necessary to paint a more calm, serene picture of myself in hopes that it will stick. It's not.

Hannah taught me how to be cordial to the neighbors, who are my best friends. I always hope by a friendly wave I can get them to come over with their dog, "nie-nee." Tonight it didn't work.

And that Hannah, well  besides being fast, she's quite strong.Perhaps the Olympics are in her future. Whether they are or not,  I enjoy reaping from the fruits of her labor. It really is convenient,like when I don't feel like walking up our hill. I just wonder how much longer she can do it. Give me a few months and I'm sure to outweigh her.

While she's a brut, she can also be a beauty.
She showed me how to eloquently pose in front of nature. You know, for all those beauty pageant cover photos we'll be sending in in a couple of years. By looks of "Toddlers and Tiaras" we have some stiff competition. I think the "natural" shots will be sure to make us stand out.

But it looks like I have so practicing to do. And some major investigating to do on my eczema. I can't seem to stop itching. That's a problem for the beauty world. Yes, that red spot on my ankle, it's just a small taste of the eczema that ravages my body. Okay, maybe ravage is harsh but it seems an appropriate verb when you're scratching yourself raw at times. Okay, that's harsh too. I think maybe I have  flair for the dramatic. 

So, for now I'll just enjoy life. Soak up all my sister has to offer while embracing my differences. 

And maybe go see what I can learn from Grant.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Redemption is the theme to Easter.

So, it's a bit fitting to be our theme for this year's Easter egg hunt.

Perhaps you remember what happened to us last year. Grant scored two eggs in the massive stampede led by competitive parents perfecting the football hold on their infant and toddler children hoping to get the edge on the egg retrival.

They did.

And then I was left empty handed and full of tears after realizing I had never perfected the shuttle run. Sprint. Bend down. Grab. Turn. Repeat. Apparently the other children had practiced this technique in preparation for the big day. Their baskets were full. Mine, empty.

The year before Mom had to ask grown women, with no kids in sight, who were hoarding eggs in their shirts to be gracious and leave a few for me and Grant who, again, had been out run by much larger kids to the few eggs that layed in the field.

This year we vowed never to return to the neighborhood hunt.

But redemption came this year. To the egg hunt.

My friend hosted the hunt. Well, his parents did. And. I. Racked. Up.

And so did Grant who managed to snag his own personal egg hunter who also happened to hide many of the eggs.

And Kate, well, we are thankful she will never know the evil, greedy, blood sucking side of Easter egg hunts. Her memory will only consist of lots of eggs and wide open spaces that proved the perfect answer to avoid stampedes of over zealous, competitive parents who are trying to make up for those disappointing years of egg hunts where they too went home empty handed.

Wait, is that what Grant and I have to look forward to?

Redemption. That's right. Our disorder has been restored. At least in the egg hunting department.

So this year, I'm happy to leave you with smiling faces, over flowing baskets, and good memories.

Easter Hunt Redemption 2012.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Mommy's Moment: Just Imagine

Before I say anything about our adventure to the Imagine It! Museum, let me first give a HUGE thank you to my neighbor Melanie and her friend, Christina, who gave us FREE tickets. I am VERY grateful despite what you may sense from the rest of this post.

I'm always grateful for an opportunity for my kids to experience something new and different from the normal day to day happenings at home. And lately, with a tight budget, it doesn't happen that much. So when I say I'm grateful, I am. But I also realize that when you go anywhere with young children, it's hard. Real hard. Let me explain.

My friend, Laura Beth, and I with our five kids ages five and under (1,2,3,4,5) began the journey forcing car seats into the back seat of my van. If there is anything that tests my patience, and my choice of words, it is car seats. There is nothing simple about them. NOTHING. And, with that final shove of the booster seat, I found that buckling little Ada in proved a far more difficult task. Thirty minutes later, we were on the road.

Reaching "The Big City" proved another obstacle. I don't venture there often. Again, why would I with the price of gas and with three very young children who often prove to be quite the distraction in an unfamiliar area that is teeming full of one way streets and more competent and fearless drivers than I?

But this day we did. Oh we did. Of course, the GPS left us hanging. It left us guessing. Which way? And when we finally spotted our destination, we breezed by it only to reunite about thirty more minutes later. Thirty minutes after searching for that road again that led us there. Thirty minutes after being honked at aggressively in an unclear situation where I'm still confused as to how I was in the wrong, though I'll admit, I likely was. Thirty minutes after answering at least thirty times, "what are we doing?" "when are we going to be there?" by three eager little voices in the back. Thirty minutes after searching through parking lots for that perfect spot.

But thirty minutes later we safely arrived in a parking deck. Out popped our strollers. Out popped hands holding onto hands as we walked to the museum.

A little confusion at the front desk made me concerned we may not be welcomed. Thankfully, we were.

And we entered. Into chaos. Fun chaos. Lots to do. But jammed packed chaos. Did I tell you it was Spring Break? Five children, each with their own ideas of what would be fun,pulling us in different directions...even the two babies who no longer were strapped in to a stroller due to the crowd had their own sense of fun. I lost Laura Beth and her crew as my kids immediately ran to the fishing pond. I guess it makes sense.

And we were happy. For a bit. Which seemed to be the theme for the rest of the day. Hannah couldn't seem to "let loose" and soon became quite the party pooper. Kate, well, she wanted to let loose too much to the point where it was a job just to keep her in sight. So we bounced from station to station and we found ourselves back at the "fishing hole."

It was a wet mess but promised for a good time as long as you spotted the non committed fishing poles before that other kid or his parents did. I spotted two girls carefully protected in some really cute raincoats. I was amazed at the preparedness of their mother and soon began to feel a bit inadequate. But that soon dissipated as I later discovered a line of raincoats kindly hung along a wall, compliments of the museum for the fishing pond. I went to grab one for Kate only to see the futility of it. She was already soaked. Then, I looked for Grant.

And folks, that's when my heart stopped. I thought he was with Hannah and Ada who were both happily playing in the "treehouse." After taking my own very quick tour of the treehouse I discovered he was not there, nor anywhere in the fishing hole. I panicked. And like a lightening bolt (or so I imagine myself) I darted out of that place screaming Grant's name. Of course I assumed he was on his way out of the building being held hostage by a child predator and soon to appear on the back of milk cartons everywhere. BUT...thankfully, THANKFULLY, Grant wore a BRIGHT yellow shirt that day and across the room I spotted that bright yellow shirt that hung on a very distraught, confused boy who was screaming, "Mommy!" while walking aimlessly through the crowd.

After reuniting he quickly said, "I want to go home."

Honestly, I did too.

My head was pounding at this point and didn't stop until later that evening.

But, I hoped he would join back in the fun. After all, we had come this far, let's make the most of it. And he did, for a bit, but he reminded me quickly, he wanted to go home.

And so, after another round at the sand table and a quick painting on the walls, we did.

We pulled out the strollers, locked hand in hand, and made our way to the car and out of "The Big City" a lot easier than we did coming in. I felt a little like the country mouse and realized I was far from a city mouse.

The ride home included lots of deep breaths and tired conversation with Laura Beth. We concluded, as we do often, that life with kids, young kids, well, it's hard. Hard for anything to be simple and easy. It involves loading, unloading, packing, herding, constant supervision, and lots and lots of patience. But, it's worth it. The headaches, the drama, the stretching. It's worth it.

there is and can be fun in the chaos.

And these pictures reminded me of that.

Now, if the cow actually worked.

For Daddy

Gone Fishin'

Kate taking it all in and wishing she was bigger.