Tag Archives: Lexi

Say Hello to The Stephanies

It’s only the second day of Lexi’s summer vacation and she already needs a project to keep her from being bored. OK, I need her to have a project to keep her from being bored.

A while back we wrote the outline of a book together. I asked Lexi who she wanted the characters to be, what she wanted to happen and kind of made up the rest. She drew one picture and it got filed away for another day.

Today was that day.

The Stephanies
We pulled out The Stephanies and started work on our book. I’m the writer and Lexi is the illustrator (apparently on Saturday we’re going to switch roles for her Star Wars book). I had to explain how illustrating works, how you have sketch things and draw them and redraw them and draw them again to get it just right. I explained how she had to practice drawing each Stephanie so they looked the same in each scene. I also explained how this wouldn’t be a quick project that we’d finish up today—it’d take a while. (All of which would probably make me a horrible art teacher)

So I spent the afternoon writing and Lexi spent the afternoon drawing. I have most of the story, though the ending needs some work and it needs lots of polishing (my last children’s book was Mike, The Cat, written when I was a child). Lexi has a lot of good drawings, though I think we need to pick some new colors or figure out what’s wrong with the scanner (the girls should be wearing dresses that are highlighter pink and yellow).

So that’s your preview of The Stephanies. It’s going to be awesome. I’m hoping we can release it later this summer, probably as an ebook and maybe as a full-color, printed book (I’ve been wanting to experiment with that for a while).

What About Milo?
And why isn’t Milo involved in this little project? Mainly because I insisted the kids clean their rooms on the first day of summer vacation and then keep them clean. Lexi finished after an hour or so on the first day. Milo kept procrastinating, not doing it and somehow completely avoiding it. For two days. He finally finished the half hour job tonight, so maybe I’ll have to find a role for him tomorrow.

Maybe he can be our publicist.

Lexi’s Last Day of Kindergarten

168th Day of School - Last DayIt seems like only yesterday Lexi was heading off to her first day of kindergarten. She was over-the-top excited and Milo burst into tears.

Today was her last day of kindergarten. She’s older, wiser and taller.

The last day celebration included a cookout with Pete the naturalist at the Dodge Nature Center, featuring mini hot dogs (Milo ate half the pack) and pizza. Then we headed back to school to hear about some of her favorite things from throughout the year and every student received an award for following one of the school’s five overall rules.

Lexi was recognized for “safety,” because she always brought the right gear. I think that means I should get an award for sending my kid to school prepared (which usually meant stopping her on the way out the door and insist she wear something more appropriate). She also got the award for making sure everyone else was being safe too, which I’m pretty sure means she’s just bossy. She practices all day long on Milo, so it’s good to see it’s paying off.

It’s been a fun year watching Lexi grow. I think the social aspect of kindergarten—learning how to interact with other kids, following the rules, being prepared—has probably been the most important, though it’s also been cool to see her learning the academics. She’s learning how to read, slowly and with more and more confidence. Having a kindergarten teacher for a mom, some people expect reading to be a serious and early milestone in our house. But it’s actually counter-productive to teach kids to read too early (Abby could give you all sorts of reasons why—I’ll leave that blog post to her). It’s important to let them go at their own pace. And it’s been fun to see that with Lexi, to see her start to read signs in stores and read stuff over our shoulder. She’s still gaining confidence with reading books, but she’s getting there.

I’m also trying not to be too proud that one of her favorite things in school was writing.

Finally, the end of the school year means the end of a little project of mine, the Days of School. It started with me taking pictures on the first day of school (I have an addiction to feed). Then as we waited for the bus on the second and third days of school Lexi kept asking me to take pictures. So we started taking a picture every day. I think we only missed one or two days when Lexi actually went to school, and of course we missed all the days she was absent (and since she had mono in the fall, there were a lot of those). But in the end we have 151 pictures of Lexi going to kindergarten.

As we went outside to take her picture today I told her  we were taking her last picture. She told me, “Nope, you’re taking pictures in first grade too!” So we’ll see how long this thing continues.

Check out the Days of School:

Let’s Watch More Star Wars!

That’s what Lexi exclaimed when the credits for Return of the Jedi rolled. It makes a father proud.

We’ve been watching the Star Wars series the last few weeks. It happened by accident. I felt like watching a movie in the basement with the fire going and I decided it’d be Star Wars. I’ve always wanted to watch these movies with my kids, but Lexi is still freaked out about the bad guys in Disney princess movies and if she can’t handle a weird, cartoony sea witch, she’d be no match for Darth Vader. My earliest movie going experience is watching Vader through my hands. The intensity can be pretty scary for a little kid.

So I didn’t expect Lexi to sit down with me and watch the first Star Wars movie. I didn’t expect Milo to sit around either. But they did. They missed parts here and there and I think that helped to break up the intensity, but we watched Star Wars together. There was much hiding under blankets and even a teary goodnight with thoughts of the Rancor, but no matter how many times I suggested we shut it off if it was too scary, they refused.

It helped that Princess Leia is mentioned in the opening crawl of A New Hope. Suddenly it became a princess movie and Lexi was hooked.

And no, there was no consideration of starting with the prequels. That’s not even a question. Though as Lexi talked about watching more Star Wars, I did reluctantly tell her about the prequels. Of course we don’t own them and I’m not rushing out to get them, so she’s safe for now. Besides, I don’t think she’s ready for the intensity of Anakin going bad. Not that she even knows who Anakin is: “Who’s that guy with the thing on his face?” (Darth Vader) “Is that guy Luke’s brother?” (Han Solo) “Where’s the princess?” (during a scene where Han & Leia kiss) “Where’s that Empire guy?” (The Emperor) “Hey! We have a Lego of him! (Yoda).

Though though they did love the Ewoks (Milo: “Look at the teddy bear!”) and Milo thought it was hilarious when the Ewok steals the speeder and spins upside down. Lexi also pointed and laughed during the celebration scene when the Ewoks use stormtrooper helmets as drums (which is frightfully morbid when you think about it). Both of which reminded me how much these movies were made for kids with the necessary humor built in to relieve the tension. I also couldn’t help but feel smug when Lexi was confused by the scenes of galactic celebration that George Lucas added to the end of Return of the Jedi. You shouldn’t muck with a good thing, George.

If you can’t already tell, these movies are deeply ingrained in my psyche and I’m thrilled to finally share them with my kids. I never thought it’d be in such a random, slipshod fashion, but it works. Sometimes it’s better to let these moments sneak up on you.

 

M83 Backup Singer Audition

So the other day I watched this video of a guy trying out to be a backup singer for M83. I don’t know anything about M83, but it was kind of a funny video. The best part is that Lexi and Milo were watching it with me and started singing along.

A few days later, the song, “Midnight City,” came on the Current and Lexi and Milo both started singing the backup part. Hilarous.

New in Nov: M83 Vocal Audition (Nov 3rd) from DaveAOK on Vimeo.

Lexi’s First Day of School

Lexi's First Day of SchoolYesterday was Lexi’s first day of Kindergarten. Thankfully, she had a much less traumatic first day of school than I did.

Last week we went to the open house and met her teacher and got to go on a school bus ride. She was shy and nervous and I had to push her on to the bus. Made me a little worried for the first day of school, but when she came bounding up the stairs at 7 a.m., fully dressed and shouting, “Happytuesdayitsthefirstdayofschool!”, I knew it was going to be OK.

When the school bus came to pick her up she jumped and down and shouted, “There’s my bus!” Then Milo erupted in tears.

In the afternoon she hopped off the bus with a big smile and gave me a high five. School was great.

“Did you learn anything?”

“Nope.”

Awesome. The days of my children telling me nothing happened at school have already begun.

Continue reading Lexi’s First Day of School

My Summer Has Evaporated

I didn’t know it, but my summer evaporated as soon as I went on that impromptu trip to Dallas for the Echo conference. The next week we had to travel out of town for a funeral. Then Abby had an all-week conference while making final preparations for our church’s VBS. This week is that VBS, which goes all morning (it’s 4 in the afternoon and I’m the only one awake). And next week Abby goes back to work.

Summer over.

Life has been slipping by lately and it’s all I can do to hold on. In a span of a few days I attended a funeral and a baptism (oddly enough in that order, which I’m choosing to see as hopeful).

Great Grandma and the neighbor’s dog both died within a week and a half of each other, which prompted all kinds of odd conversations: “Why did Domino die?” “Because he was old and sick.” “And why did Great Grandma die?” “Um, because she was old and sick.”

And for once the frustration and right answer actually matched up: “But how does Grandma get to heaven? She can’t just fly, she’s dead!” “I don’t know, Lexi.”

The other day I was half lamenting, half apologizing to my neighbor for not keeping up with the yard work. “You’re not raising grass, you’re raising kids,” she told me.

It’s a small comfort, but I’ll take it.

Say Hello to Yeshumnesh

Abby & YeshumneshWe announced earlier this spring that we were pursing the adoption of an older child. We never imagined that a few short months later we’d be welcoming an 11-year-old girl into our family. But that’s what happened.

We’ve been pretty tight-lipped about this adoption, both because of the speed of the process (we got the call on June 8) and the nature of the situation. But it’s happening. So the beans get spilled.

Last week Abby and our good friend Nicole traveled to Anchorage, Alaska to meet Yeshumnesh (pronounced Ye-shem-nesh). They return today (hopefully). She’s a bright, out-going and active Ethiopian girl who will turn 11 in August. She originally came to the United States in December of 2009, but that original adoption is being disrupted (that’s adoption lingo for what happens when a child is placed with a family and it doesn’t work out). The reasons behind that disruption will remain private, but in general this family was not the right fit for Yeshumnesh.

Yeshumesh will go to school a few blocks from our house. She’s very athletic and enjoys soccer, biking, cross-country skiing and ice skating (hockey!). She likes to color and enjoys listening to stories. She loves movies, including High School Musical and Hannah Montana. She’s pretty good with her English though is still catching up. She’ll have her own bedroom across from Lexi & Milo’s that we hope we can decorate together.

This has been a pretty insane week. And I’m not in Alaska. I stayed home with the kids and tried to maintain some normalcy. This is the longest Milo has ever been away from Abby and I realized it’s also the longest I’ve been away from my wife in, well, I don’t remember how long. Definitely since we had kids, probably longer. Maybe since we got married.

And I’m sure it’s been crazier in Alaska. Welcoming an older child into your family isn’t like adopting an infant. It’s a whole new ball of wax. We’ve had a rollercoaster of a summer preparing for this and it’s finally coming together. It’s not going to be easy. Yeshumnesh needs to get used to our family—and an entirely new life—and we need to get used to her. Lexi and Milo will have their own transitions, so it could be bumpy all the way around as we get used to one another.

We’ll be leaning on a lot of folks for support, from social workers and therapists to friends and family. I’ve been leaning on them pretty hard this week and it’s just me and the little ones. I don’t know where we’d be without help—definitely not here, that’s for sure. You can’t do this kind of thing without help.

Our friends and family have been incredibly supportive of Milo’s adoption and we’re hoping to find the same love and support this time around. Any efforts to shore up our sanity are always appreciated. If you’re the praying type, we could use lots of prayer for the remaining legal issues, travel, transitions, family bonding, logistics and financial considerations.

I never imagined I’d be the father of three and rocking a mohawk at 31.