Thursday, September 25, 2008

My Junk Yard Dog

For those of you that don't know Sawyer well I thought I would try to help you understand our nickname for him. It really is a compliment to him. Well, kind of.

Ben came up with this nickname because of the old song "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and movie Sandlot.

For the first 9 months of Sawyer's life he was the most laid back kid you had ever met. He was content to just sit and watch Charlie all day long while lounging in his bouncy seat. He would go to bed like an angel (not sleep through the night mind you) and wake up happy as well. He thought life was great as long as he had his Mommy close by and Charlie was entertaining him. We had many people comment that they couldn't believe we ended up with a baby that was more well-behaved than Charlie. They thought we would get the typical "second baby". We were so proud! Hah!

Then Sawyer learned how to crawl. That was the end of his calm demeanor. We didn't realize that it was the freedom that changed him at first. It really literally happened within a week while we were in Texas. We came home with a different child. It was that drastic of a change!

He now will not sit still for any longer than 2 pages of a book, possibly 30 seconds of a cartoon and we are lucky if we can get his diaper changed without having to body-slam him back onto the changing table. He is constantly in motion and very verbal. He doesn't say too many words yet but he babbles CONSTANTLY.

He is a very physical boy. He loves contact. He wants to be held or to wrestle at all times. Some contact that has caused a problem is his habit of biting. :( He has chosen this as his means of self-defense against Charlie and neighboring stray dogs. I finally bit him back at one point and he literally threw his head back and laughed at me. Ugh. He now just starts to cry when Charlie starts screaming but it is over in a matter of seconds.

All of his physical motion has led to a number of split lips and bloody noses. I am guessing he will be the cause of our first trip to the E.R.

In the end Sawyer is tough, mean at times and fierce but he is also loyal and super sensitive. He loves to give big smooches and adores his brother. Just like the dog in Sandlot his smooches are always open mouthed with lots of drool! :)
I wouldn't want to meet him in a dark alley but I won't trade him for the world! So for the rest of you rest assured that if you ever need someone to back you up you can count on Sawyer our own Junk Yard Dog.

Ok this has totally nothing to do with this post but it is still hilarious. I wanted to find a clip of the dog from Sandlot "The Beast- Hercules" but couldn't find one. I did find this however. It is classic. I forgot how funny this movie is. Warning, they do say a cuss word in it so you might not want your little ones to watch it.

peace out,


Friday, September 19, 2008

Best Friends

Kathy Zawada-Tucek is one of my best friends in the whole world. She really is. I finally overcame my fear (well kind of) of driving through downtown Chicago to go visit her this past week. She has lived in what seemed like the Upper Penninsula (Actually just northern Illinois) for the past 5 or so years and I have never been to her house.

It was a crazy, fun, exhausting and special trip for me. I loved seeing Jeff, Kristen, their babies, Kathy and her whole clan (her husband Jason, son Joseph, and adorable daughter Madelyn).

While there the Tucek family treated us to a night at Chuck E Cheese's. The boys LOVED it! Sawyer just wanted to run through the whole place while laughing.

Charlie wanted to get on every ride and not sit still for any more than 2.5 seconds. He loved playing basketball with Jason and Joseph the most. The boys also ate an unbelievable amount of pizza. I think Sawyer had 2 full pieces and Charlie ate 3.

Sawyer was so exhausted by the end of the night. I can't even count how many times he fell down. By the time the night was over he had a small bloody nose, a cut on his lip and a gash on his thigh. He truly is a "Junk Yard Dog". This picture here is of him eating a Chicken leg. Kathy thought it helped explain our little nickname for him.

That night the plan was that Joseph and Charlie would have a sleepover in Joseph's room and Sawyer would sleep like an angel in Kathy's walk in closet. Kathy and I had visions of staying up late, talking about girly things and whispering late into the night. Hah! What were we thinking! In the end, Charlie came out of Joseph's room about 11pm and wanted to sleep with me. Charlie has never slept with us before. Not that we are against it, he just never calms down to the point that he can actually sleep. So after about 45 minutes of Charlie alternating between rubbing my arms and kissing me saying "wet one" and then doing a fake cry so that Sawyer would wake up and him saying, "Bubby's awake. I'm awake! Were done sleeping!" we finally fell asleep with Kathy, Charlie and I all in her bed.
The next morning Kathy and I started making plans for us to have a "girls weekend" away from the kids and husbands. I suggested a day at a spa. She suggested Jamaica. I like her idea better! I think we both felt bad that we didn't get much "face" time but that is just the way it goes with 4 kids under the age of two and a half.

Despite all the craziness my time with Kathy reminded me of why we are such good friends. We have been close since our Junior year of high school- 11 years ago. Wow! We are getting old! We have gone through the dating scene together, marriages and babies. We are sisters in Christ most importantly and that has held us together through a lot. One of the things I love most about my relationship with Kathy is that we love each other so much that we are honest with each other. Although we have not lived close in distance since our high school days, we remain close in spirit. I love you Kath!

Pardon the terrible picture of me! I was sweaty and exhausted after chasing the boys for an hour or so in Chuck E Cheese's. Notice that Kathy still looks fabulous! How does she do it????

peace out, a

Three times the blessings!

Earlier this week I made the trek through Chicago and up into northern Illinois to visit some old friends, Jeff and Kristen Ballard. They were blessed with triplets one month ago; two boys and one girl!
Jeff and Ben played ball together in high school and Kristin was roommates with one of my best friends- Kathy Zawada-Tucek at IU. So... we all know each other in kind of random ways. Anyway... I haven't seen Jeff and Kristen in about 2 years so when I finally got brave enough to drive through Chicago to go visit Kathy, I figured I am this close, I want to see the triplets! (Sorry, Jeff and Kristen you guys are kind of in the back seat now.) Just teasing I really did want to see you also.

Jeff was a trooper and played with 3 out of the 4 children Kathy and I brought with us while we "oohh.. and ahhhed" over the babies.
They are sooooo..... tiny! Benjamin Erik is the biggest at 5 lbs, Abigail Paige is the tiniest at 4lbs and Luke James is somewhere in between. (I hope I got all those stats right.)

Jeff and Kristen are such amazing people. I wish we saw each other more often. They have such an awesome story with these babies. God has truly worked in their lives and is continuing to do so. Kristen is one of the strongest gals I know to carry three babies to 35 weeks while being SSSSIIIICCCKKK the ENTIRE pregnancy.

The babies names have such a cool meaning. I will let them tell that story. Jeff you have to blog about that now! :)
Check out their blog at for more details.

After we left their house, we drove to Kathy's house for a stay. I will blog about this in another posting but I will give you a little teaser to get you to come back- Picture Charlie trying to put me to bed after an exhausting day of driving and night at Chuck E Cheese's! Yikes! :) Stay tuned for more!

peace out, a

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Whoopsie Daisies Days

For those of you who don't know about "Whoopsie Daisies", I felt the need to spread the word about it.

This business is run by my sister, Lee-Ann. She is located in Texas (right outside Fort Worth) Hoo Hoot! (sorry I felt the need to do that. Every time Ben or I hear the word Fort Worth we give a little shout out- Hoo Hoot!)

Continue on ADD Amanda... Anyway my sister is super creative and talented at what she does. She uses great fabric (vintage and new) that you can't find here in the midwest and creates adorable children's outfits, baby gifts and aprons. I have done a few craft shows for her here in Syracuse and her stuff always gets bought up in a flash.

So the next time you need a baby gift and don't want to give any more money to the baby monopoly of Babies R Us. Why not buy something handmade and original while supporting a stay-at-home mom. Lee-Ann does custom orders all the time so feel free to pitch her an idea that you have and see if she can make it into something adorable.

Check out her blog and etsy shop at

peace out,

Friday, September 12, 2008

Two Lollipops Please!

This series of pictures is from awhile ago but I was going through my files today and found them. They just make me laugh because you can see the story unfold as you look at them.

Here is a little background for you...

The boys' Uncle Troy and Megan sent them a package for Sawyer's birthday from Disney World. In it was a lollipop for Charlie along with a bunch of other goodies for them both. As we were opening up the package I thought, "Let's take a nice little photo of you two with your gifts to show Troy and Megan how much we appreciated the package."

Hah! As you can see from these photos. I never got my "smiley" picture of them. The boys are such good brothers. They really do LOVE each other a lot. Charlie loves to go get Sawyer when he wakes up and Sawyer enjoys giving Charlie kisses. On the flip side they are also still two little boys that are rough and rowdy and sometimes forget to be gentle with one another. (Sawyer is a biter and Charlie will steal just about any toy that Sawyer has from him.)

Anyway keep those thoughts in mind as you enjoy the pictures of the "Lollipop" battle.

As you can see here, the fight is on. "Ding, Ding" Charlie wins Round 1.

"Ding, Ding" Round 2 goes to Sawyer

Uh Oh Charlie is backed into the corner in Round 3.

What is your prediction? Who will win?

Mom of course!! Did you really doubt me?

For future reference Troy, save your poor sister-in-law some trouble

and send 2 lollipops next time.
Just teasing. We really did appreciate the package.

They shared the lollipop over the next several days.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Newest Cousin

Congratulations to Greg and Amy Tonagel on the birth of their baby- Jace Gregory Tonagel. He was born yesterday afternoon and weighed 8 lbs 7 oz and 21 1/2 inches long. We got to meet Jace last night. He is just adorable. Charlie was very excited about meeting his newest cousin. He even wanted to skip eating McDonalds so he could eat with Baby Jace.

The Tonagel streak continues... Hugh and Kathy are 7 for 7 with boys. (4 sons and 3 grandsons.)

Ben and Greg with their boys.
Visit Greg and Amy's blog at

Monday, September 8, 2008


Before any of you call CPS on us. I figured I should clarify that I was kidding before when I implied that we let our kids roll around in the pesticides from the crop dusters. Andy hang up the phone! :)
We really do enjoy watching the planes but as soon as we can smell any of the chemicals blowing towards the house, we go inside and shut all the windows and doors.
Hopefully that put your minds at ease.
peace out, a

The Triathletes

A few weekends ago a bunch of us competed in the Wawasee Triathlon. Ben, Joel, and Chase did the whole triathlon themselves while us girls did it as a team. I swam the first leg, Jessica then biked, and Mal finished by running. We won our division! (I feel compelled to tell you there were only 3 in our division.) The guys did great also! They all placed. Joel was the overall winner for our group. The day was extra special since it was Ben's 30th b-day. Charlie and Sawyer held up signs for him and had shirts that said, "Our Dad's Faster than your Dad!"

I was planning to be able to call myself a "real" triathlete this weekend. I had signed up for a triathlon in Michigan City where I would do the entire race (it was a shortened one). I was so excited about it. I was fully prepared to get my butt kicked but I still thought it would be cool. I had even bought a hideous spandex outfit for the biking and running part! I pity all the spectators.

Oh no... instead by the time I arrived in LaPorte with both boys on Friday afternoon I had a 102.7 temperature that lasted for most of the day and on to Saturday. Ugh... I was so mad! So.. long story short there was no way I could swim in Lake Michigan and go biking and running with that kind of temp. I was so out of it. Luckily I was at my parents and they took care of the boys while I stayed in bed for most of the day. In the end my mom had to drive me home because I was so dizzy still on Sat afternoon. Sunday was no better. It is now Monday and I am still dizzy and have a massive headache but I finally broke down, went to the doctor, handed over a bunch of money to hear him say, "Well, sometimes these viruses will last awhile. You just need to ride it out." Ugh!

Well, I guess I will just have scare the competitors next summer with my spandex.



still just the swimmer :(

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Crazy Crop Dusters

Is it just me or does anyone else in the Midwest think crop dusters are both insanely crazy but also the coolest thing ever????

I took these pictures a few weeks ago while standing on my front porch. I used my normal lens on my camera. No telephoto lenses here, people! (Although, if you see Ben, hint around that that would be a great gift idea! Thanks!)

On with the story... In the bottom photos you can see the outline of our porch and the barn behind our house. They really do get that close!

The first summer we lived in our home I was upstairs when I heard the loud engine coming outside. I ran to the window and about peed my pants when I looked out and the pilot literally waved at me (not kidding!). I thought for sure he was going to hit the house!

Now, I know some people worry about the chemicals that are being sprayed out of the planes. Around our house, if it provides a few minutes of entertainment for the boys, I am cool with it! So... if they end up with an extra eye on their forehead or something. I will just blame those crazy crop dusters. :0)

peace out, a

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Great time with the Grady's.

This past weekend we went to visit our good friends, The Grady's in Iowa. We try to get together with them twice a year but it has been rough the last two years because of ALL the babies! The Grady's now have 3. Addison- soon to be 5, Lucas- soon to be 3 and Dawson- soon to be 1. Put our two in the mix and we had a houseful!

The highlight of the weekend for the adults was Sunday night. Athena had the BRILLIANT idea to hire a babysitter to watch all the kiddos so the adults could go out to eat for the night ALONE! Ben and I both thought we could hear the angels singing as we walked out the door and said, "See Ya, Wouldn't want to Be Ya!" to the sitters. Did I mention that we got to go out ALONE for dinner with other adults! Wow! For those of you without children you have no idea how nice it was not to talk over Sawyer's insanely loud babbling, not having to refill sippy cups, picking up what seemed to be more food than you actually served off of the floor, then trying to wrestle two boys upstairs and into the tub. (Yes, I really do love my children.)
Anyway... we went to a really fun restaurant called "Three Samauri". It was a Jappaneese steakhouse. We had never been to one before. What a blast! Highly recommend it!

We headed home late that night to try and beat the Chicago traffic and keep the boys on somewhat of a schedule. We crawled into bed at 4am. Ugh...

Ben and I both commented that although we only see the Grady's every few months it is like we were just with them last weekend. This is part of the reason that we were so excited about giving Charlie the name- Charles Grady. They are wonderful parents and spouses that love the Lord with all their heart and we feel blessed to have them in our lives.

Till the next time Matt... "Ichi, Ni, San!"
Athena- next time we are hiring the sitters for both nights!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Breaking down...

Ok... so I am breaking down and starting a blog. I have had several people comment that I should do this. For those of you that know me well, you know that I rarely do something half-hearted. That is why I didn't want to start one because I knew I would want to keep up on it. So.. I will do my best to update our blog every few days. My hope is that you will enjoy seeing our photos, stay up to date on our lives, and maybe learn a few things. :) We are a family of educators, Right!?! :)
Enjoy the blog!