Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Letter 2007

Well, I sent out some Christmas Cards (only a few, if you didn't get one, I apologize.... this is all it was.)

However, there were no updates or anything included with the cards, so I thought I'd post a Christmas Letter to let y'all know what the Stewarts have been up to as of late.

It's been a crazy fall, I have to say.
* My dad left us in August - sold his house (finally) and moved back to Washington with my Mom. Undoubtedly this is where he belongs, but we miss him all the same. It was time for Eric and I to figure out this whole "parenthood" thing on our own. It's been a challange, but the kids are still alive and well.
* Eric's parents came to visit us over Labor Day. It was a fabulous visit and we enjoyed the typical spoiling that goes along with Tom and Judi visits.
* My mom came to visit about a week after Tom and Judi left. I gave her a project - redecorating the kids' bedroom and bathroom. It's fabulous - there are pictures:
Kids' Suite Remodel
I realize if we move it'll have to be redone.
* Nilz and Kelly visit a couple days after my mom left. Project for them too - replace lights, etc. Very fun visit - Nilz went fishing with Aron. Kelly made a pizza that got eaten by the dogs (okay, that wasn't so fun). We hope they come back soon.
* Eric spends many many many hours preparing applications for jobs for Fall 2008.
* Aron decided he wants to be Jack Spellington for Halloween. Jordan wants to be a princess, even though I tell her that's not much of a stretch. The actual princess outfit we find is Snow White from Shrek the Third - tatoo and all. There are pictures:
Halloween 2007

* Rikka misses Trick-or-Treating because of choir rehersal.
* My dad and I miss each other completely as I fly to Florida for training and he flies here to help out.
* All four of us meet Tom and Judi in Southern California for 1) Eric's interviews and 2) a vacation of a lifetime. There are pictures:
Southern California Trip

* My parents come to visit about a week after we return from So. Cal. We had a great visit - went by too quickly. I gave my dad a project - a new sink in the kids room.
* Eric gets a second interview to one school and a "no go" on two others. Still waiting to hear on the fourth.
* Rikka obsessively watches HGTV to figure what all she needs to do to get her house ready to sell should the news come through that we are moving.

Next Saturday (the 29th) we will head to Albuquerque for a week to spend with Tom and Judi and Dave and Jamie and Tony and Gene. We are looking forward to that. In the meantime we are planning for our first every Christmas alone - just the four of us.

We wish you every blessing this holiday season.

The Stewarts
Eric, Rikka, Aron and Jordan

Thursday, October 04, 2007

One Fish, No Fish...

Well... Hannah died. I think it was Eric's and my fault for not changing the water.

The sad part is that we realized Hannah died last night, after the kids were in bed (Wednesdays are crazy, we don't get home until 9.) So Eric emptied the tank (and threw it out because it stunk).

This morning Aron apparently asked about Hannah and Eric broke the bad news. Aron was really really sad about - dispondent for a good 1/2 hour, Eric said.

I guess not being able to carry her around for a while and flush the toilet meant no closure for him.

Poor little guy.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

One Fish, Two Fish....

This is the tale of two fish(es). I should probably start at the beginning.

For those of you who don't know, we live in Michiana (Michigan/Indiana) because South Bend is right on the border of Michigan. Directly across the border is Niles. For a while, when South Bend was on Eastern Standard Time and didn't go on daylight savings, we would be an hour ahead of Niles for 1/2 the year. There are many who live in Niles and work in South Bend.

Every year in the fall, Niles has an Apple Festival. I hear it's lots of fun. Like the Blueberry Festival in Plymouth. I've never been.

My next door neighbors, Keri, Greg, Ian and Gabe, went last weekend. They have carnival games and Keri and Ian each won a goldfish while playing one of these games.

Keri has a fish tank, and in it is a shark. I'm pretty sure the goldfish would have ended up shark food had they been introduced into the tank. So Keri thought for a minute and came up with, "Aron and Jordan love fish."

So Keri talks with Eric to find out if we want these two goldfish.

The kids and I were out playing at a friend's house and decided to go to dinner with them, so we called Eric to have him join us. Once he arrived he told me about the fish and asked what I thought. I said that Aron would really enjoy having the fish. So he takes the kids to the pet store to pick out a tank (plastic gallon bowl) and some food. I went home to clean the kitchen.

When the kids got home and set up the bowl, they got ready to go next door to collect the fish. Eric asked each of them what they wanted to name their fish. Aron said, "Alex." (Alex is a kid in his class). Jordan said, "Hannah, no Alex." (Hannah is also a kid in her class). Eric said, "Well, we have one Alex, so let's stick with Hannah." That was fine.

So Aron and Jordan, accompanied by Eric, walk next door to get their fish.

They bring them home and we put them in the bowl. We take the bowl to their bedroom (probably not the best option). We went through a few: "No, you cannot stick the net in the bowl." "Please don't put your hands in the fish bowl." "LEAVE THE FISH ALONE!!!"

Finally we got the kids calmed down, ready for bed and in bed. Eric and I watched some TV.

The next morning while Eric and I were in the bathroom getting ready for Church, Aron came in carrying his sister's pink plastic purse. He announces, "Alex is dead." I asked what happened. He said, "Maybe Jordan took him out of the bowl and stomped on him."

Okay, I have to stop the story now for a second to explain that Aron and Jordan are heavy into the blaming phase, and that lots and lots of their stories are make-believe. So Aron will blame Jordan, Thumper or KC for pretty much everything that happens, even if he is standing right there holding the evidence.

Jordan did NOT, in fact, step on the fish. As it turned out, nobody stepped on the fish. Back to the story...

So I go with Aron to his room and see that there is one fish in the bowl. I asked Aron where the other fish is. He said, "Alex is dead." I said, "Yes, but where IS Alex?" He responds, "Mom, Alex is SO dead." "Aron, tell me where Alex is."

He starts going for the pink plastic purse he's been toting. He opens it up and sure enough there is one dead goldfish inside.

I kind of gasped and then recovered. "Aron, we need to put him in the toilet and say good-bye."

Aron thinks, "Maybe, maybe, maybe..., maybe he just needs a drink." So he plunks Alex back into the fish bowl. I watch for a second and yep, he floats to the top. I think, "Alex is sooo dead."

I went to inform Eric that yes indeedy, we have a dead fish on our hands.

I go back to explain to Aron that we need to flush the fish. Once again I find a tank inhabited with one live fish. "Aron, where is Alex." He comes in carrying his camera case in his hands. "Um... Um... maybe Jordan took him." "I think he might be in your camera case. Aron, honey, we need to say goodbye to Alex. We need to put him in the toilet and flush him. He'll go see Nemo!"

Aron, in the bathroom, kind of has a meltdown. He tries to persuade me that we should put the fish in the trash, but I'm thinking I really DON'T want dead fish stinking up my trash.

By this point all four of us are in their [fish motif'ed] bathroom reasoning with Aron to put the fish in the toilet. He finally relents, but he has to "Do it MYSELF! Jordan, Don't TOUCH!" He does, he puts the fish in the toilet and flushes and we all say "goodbye, Alex."

Okay, so all-in-all not a bad end to the crisis.

Aron goes back to the fish bowl and looks at "Hannah" and announces, "I think this is Alex, Hannah died."

Later we had to remove the fish tank from their room and Hannah is now safely on the mantle out of reach of 4-year-old hands.

I was a little worried I'd get a call from their teacher on Monday saying something like, "Mrs. Stewart, your son keeps insisting that Alex is dead, it's really upsetting Alex and the other students. What do you people DO on the weekends??" But it never materialized.

So we now have one fish named Hannah, who, at least as of 7:45 this morning, is alive! And one dead Alex down the drain.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Kid Cams

As you've seen from other posts, the children got fishing poles for their birthdays. They've really enjoyed those, especially Aron.

In addition, they received camera's for their birthdays. Which they both have enjoyed.

The cameras came with enough memory to store about 60 photos. Which they used up in about 20 minutes. So we went out and bought 1G SD cards ($15 each) to put in their cameras allowing them to take something like 5000 pictures each.

So here are some samples of the world from their point of view.
Jordan's Camera

Aron's Camera

Thursday, August 23, 2007

In Which Jordan Rides a Two-Wheeler

My (just) four-year-old daughter had the training wheels taken off her bike last night.

She's been riding a two-wheeler at school around the [very flat] playground. Eric was a little concerned about her trying it out on our street which isn't so flat, but last night we did it, well, I did it.

It's so cool!

Bike Riding

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tippecanoe River State Park

We went camping this past weekend. For about 6 months now Aron has expressed interest in fishing. He's always loved marine life, but he's now very interested in fishing with a pole with a "rolling pin" on it.

So for their birthday, Gramma Judi and Papa Tom got them each a fishing pole. Jordan's is pink and says Barbie on it. They were ecstatic! In addition they got these kid's digital cameras. We put SD memory cards in them and they can take like 5000 pictures or something. But they are very easy for them to point, click and review (and even delete, which Jordan has been doing on Aron's camera).

This past weekend was the last weekend that My dad was going to be in town, so we took his trailer out for one last summer camping trip and also took along the kids' fishing poles.

With their fishing poles they each received a rubber fish which can be tied onto the line for casting practice. Once we got to the campsite I tied on the rubber fish (Aron's was green and Jordan's was orange) and they practiced casting just on the ground. Aron got it right away. Which was slightly surprising, because Jordan is usually the first to master mechanical items (like her bike and the camera). But Aron pretty much figured it out after my showing him just one time.

So the next day we went down to the river (still with the rubber fish attached) and the two of the cast out these rubber fish into the river for awhile. Well, the river was moving kind of swiftly and we kept telling them they needed to reel them in quickly, as the weight of the rubber fish would take it to the bottom and then it would get stuck in rocks.

Sure enough, Aron waited too long to reel it in one time and got his little green fish stuck. My dad (and I) attempted to get it unstuck. The result of this little adventure was my dad sitting down, fully clothed, in the river and the line breaking saying good by to the little green fish forever.

Aron is funny. He takes a while to catch the point of something that has happened (for instance the little green fish.) "Mommy, I need my green fish! Find it!" "I can't Aron, it's gone down the river." "What?" "It's gone!" But when he does finally catch on (let's say hours later with repeats of the above conversation many, many times.) Then he has to explain to everyone. "I lost my green fish in the river. It's gone." So he explains that to pretty much anyone who will listen, whether they follow the conversation or not.

Anyway, after that we were given some hooks and lures which we tied onto their lines and then they practiced casting with real hooks and fake worms (Aron was particularly impressed with the fake worms.)

Nothing was caught all weekend, but Aron sure did have a good time. I don't mean to imply that Jordan did not have fun, but it was definitely a perfect weekend as far as Aron was concerned.

Here are some pictures (and some video... leading up to, but not including, the sit-down in the river by my dad).

August Camping

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Photos from out Trip to Albuquerque

Albuquerque Summer 2007

And here is an album of all their Professional Pictures (after the first year). It includes their 4-year-old pictures.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Conversations including almost-four-year-olds!

Aron: Mama?
Me: Yes, Aron?
Aron: You're Rikka?
Me: Yes, Aron?
Aron: You're My Mommy?
Me: Yes, Aron?
Aron: Ashley is Mother of Avery?
Me: Yes, Ashely is Avery's Mom... and Julia's.
Aron: Who's Kevin?
Me: Kevin is Avery and Julia's Dad.
Aron: No, WHERE's Kevin?
Me: I imagine he is either at home or at work.
Aron: Huh?
Me: *sneeze*
Aron: God Bless You!
Me: Thank you!
Jordan: Aron, here's your donut!
Aron (as he's putting on his last shoe): NO! I'm not dressed yet!
Jordan: Oh, well, here you go.
Aron: Thank you.... Mama?
Me: Yes, Aron?
Aron: This my donuhnut?
Me: Yes, Aron, that's your donut... you need to eat it in the car, though, because it's time to go to school.
Aron (opening the bag and looking in): Oh... wait! this is Jordan's!
Me: Go trade with her.
Aron (running): JORDAN!!!! *beat* *WHINE*
Aron: Jordan, this your donuhnut!
Jordan: No, No, Aron... listen my eyes! Once you get in the car, I give you your donut...OKAY?
Aron: NO!!! *beat* MAAAAAMMMMAAAA!!!!

Aren't 4 year olds FUN?????

Monday, June 25, 2007

Nilz Gets Married

This weekend we went out to Devil's Lake State Park/Campground to participate in the wedding of Nilz an Kelly. It was a beautiful weekend, perfect weather and a very nice campground.

Here are pictures from the event. The first 20 are Jordan's taking pictures of Aron while Eric and I packed up the car. I didn't even realize she had done it until I downloaded all the pictures today. She's quite the photographer.

YOu'll also see pictures of her during the wedding with a drum around her neck. She helped out the percussion during the campfire songs after the wedding. She's got pretty good rhythm!


Nilz' Wedding

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Mud

There is a new development going in next to our subdivision. There are now about 4 houses built on the new street, but since the kids were little and talking there has been dirt over there. At first there was a new "pond" behind our house (really a ditch) which a couple of ducks and a boat-load of frogs inhabit. They like to run back to the "pond". But there was always piles of dirt, so the place came to be known as "the dirt." When Aron was first talking he would say, "See! Big DIRT!"

Anyway, we walk over there sometimes, so we've watched the whole development go from all dirt to paved road to model home to construction site to new home to construction site to new home... etc.

Last night Aron asked if we could go for a walk after dinner. And then he asked if we could take the dogs (he likes to walk the dogs). And Jordan asked if she could ride her bike and then Aron asked if we could go to "the Dirt". And if KC could run through the pond (one of KC's favorite activities.)

It rained on and off all day yesterday. It was even kind of spitting as we set out on our walk. It's safe to say the dirt that exists there was pretty much mud. They've also started a new house, so there's lots of mounds of mud, and tracked mud on the street.

So we were walking along, walked to the pond area for KC to romp in the water... cleaned up a dog mess... handled a few tearful crisis involving little ones and sticker bushes...

There is one part of the road that was poorly planned for drainage and ends up with a very large puddle anytime there is any percipitaiton. Aron loves to run through this. It's probably 30 feet long and up to a couple inches deep, he just runs through it and kicks up as much splashing water as he can. Jordan follows through with her bike. They laugh. It's a grand time.

My brother Jeff is in town and he accompanied us on this walk and was a little taken aback, I think, that I allowed this free-for-all water play.

So after we coerced the children that the spitting was turning into actual rain and it was time to get on home and therefore time to stop running through the big puddle, Aron walks along the side of the street where there are just mounds of mud. The kind when you step on them, you squish down and lose your foot. He was wearing his sandles.

At one point I'm up wtih Jordan who has ridden on ahead and I hear yelling from behind me "I"M STUCK!!!" Aron has sunk so far in the mud he couldn't pull his foot out... until he did and then only his foot came out... his sandal stayed well stuck.

He and Uncle Jeff were able to pull the sandal free. Aron was covered in mud. I took the reigns of both dogs and kept going.

Then I hear crying ahead. Jordan is lying on the side of the street, her bike tipped over.

I go over to help her up and what she is most upset about, because she doesn't seem in the least bit hurt, is that she is now "all dirty" and she needed to wash her hands.

We told her she could wipe her hands on Bubba's shirt as he was already covered in mud as it was.

When we got home I made Aron stay on the porch so I could take some pictures (and then so he could take off all his muddy clothes prior to entering the house.)

Here is the album of those pictures.
The Mud

The Stewarts

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


At the beginning of May our choir did a song at church called "Alleluia! The Great Storm is Over!" For this song, I was the soloist on the verses.

I hope this works, but here is a recording of our May 6th performance during the offering at church.

CTK Choir - March 6, 2007

Let me know if you are able to get to it!


More Pictures and Videos

May 2007 - School Picnic

The Stewart Garden

Easter 2007

Winter Fun - 2007

Couple of Funny Videos...

The Cox Boys (and Shelly) have been visiting the past few days. Here are some pictures of our trip to the zoo.

May Cox Visit

Saturday, May 05, 2007

MS Walk 2007

Like the 5 years previously, I participated in the MS Walk this year. And like the 3 years previously, my children were with me. In addition, this year my Dad joined us (for the second year) and Eric joined us (who's only missed one year).

It wasn't a particularly sunny day, but it was pleasent and dry. We walked 3 miles around the East Race of downtown South Bend. We started and finished at the College Football Hall of Fame. And we were provided with snacks when we arrived and pizza and sandwhiches when we finished.

Our team (The Healy Group) was probably around 50 strong, lead by our fearless leader (and reason for our participation), Leslie Myers. Leslie is a co-worker of mine and was diagnosed about 7 years ago. Our company has participated in the walk every year since.

With the support of many of my friends and family members, I was able to raise $758.50 as of now, but I actually expect a few more checks in the mail, so I'll give a final total next weekend. This is a huge success and I couldn't have done it without many of you.

Our office had a Jeans Day for MS which raised quite a bit for our team.

And last weekend my girlfriends and I had a joint garage sale. I collected donations for MS as well as donated the proceeds for my tables to the fight.

Next year I'll have to start a little sooner and set my goal a little higher!

Thank you all for your help and support.

And, because I can't help it, if you'd really like to contribute and haven't yet, you can still do so online:

or by sending me a check made payable to National MS Society and mail it to:
2312 Foxfire Drive
South Bend, IN 46628

I will try to post another post next weekend. I have a busy week this week and would love to share the details with all of you.... but I'll leave this post dedicated to MS.

Here is an album of some pictures I took today:
MS Walk 2007

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A Little Gender Bending - Never Hurt Anyone!

I love my children. This week they are wearing each other's underwear. But I found this recent display of "Princess Dancing" quite precious, so I thought I would share!

I'm really enjoying this YouTube way of sharing videos!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

An Adventurous Weekend

This past weekend was the kids’ recital for their Rhythm and Movement Class through Suzuki. Jordan did VERY well. Aron is a little shy when it comes to bunches of people he doesn’t know. But it was entertaining, all the same.

I've attempted to add upload this video using But I'm not sure it will work...

Thursday, March 22, 2007


At the beginning of March we took a little trip! Eric had a class (for coaches) in St. Louis. So my dad, the kids and I joined him. We drove to St. Louis on Friday, March 3rd and drove back Saturday March 4th (see, I told you, a 'little' trip).

We dropped Eric off at the hotel around 3:30, well, we checked in, got settled, whatever. And then Dad, Aron, Jordan and I headed south to Ste. Genevieve where Trish (Aron and Jordan's birthmom) and Jessi (her daughter, and A&J's sister) live.

After a little while of warming up to Trish and Jessi at their house, the kids all played together for a while and then we went out for a very nice dinner.

Prior to our leaving on the trip, the kids were having arguments about who's 'sister' or 'best friend' or even 'friend' Jessi was. They had a photo of her, which Aron brought with him - perhaps to just to make sure that the person he saw was the person in the picture. Aron would run around the house saying "My Jessi!" to which Jordan would retort "My Jessi!" It was cute.

The big damper on the trip, and particularly that evening, was that Jordan was finishing up with the cold that all of us had at one point or another - or even several times - since the year started. She felt awful and I felt for her. She was a trooper, though.

The next day, well, first of all, it snowed. So it was freakin' COLD! But we had made arrangements to meet up with Trish, Jessi, and Trish's parents at the St. Louis Zoo. The kids have actually been to that particular zoo twice before. The first time was shortly (like days) after they were born. At the end of July it's HOT in St. Louis. And Eric and I had figured out the basics of feeding and changing them. We were waiting (somewhat patiently) to be allowed to leave the state, and subsequently to enter our state and we got bored watching the free movies in the hotel. So we went to the free zoo for a day. It was a great day.

2 years ago we went to St. Louis because my roommate from college got married and I was in the wedding. We also visited with Trish and Jessi during that trip. While I was doing some bridesmaid thing or other, Dad and Eric took the kids to the zoo. Apparently it was pretty cold that day too.

Anyway, the zoo was pretty much completely empty. But we made the best of it - visiting everything that was indoors. The penguins were particularly cool.

Then we went out to lunch. There was no real place to nap that day, so we went to the mall, played on the "wee!" (escalator to those of you not fluent in 3 year old speak). Up and down, up and down, up and down - trip to the potty - up and down up and down. And then we played in the mall play area for a while - which was packed, it being a Saturday and cold outside. Jessi also seemed to enjoy both the 'wee!' and the play area.

Then we went and saw Flushed Away! at the dollar theater. It was cute - at least, what I saw of it. Jordan still felt pretty crappy, so she was clingy and whiny, plus neither of them had had a nap, so they were both cranky. There were an obscene number of trips to the potty during the film too.

After the movie it was time to say good bye to Trish, Jessi and Trish's parents. Jessi was not at all pleased with this turn of events.

We had a great time and here are a bunch of pictures from the experience. Many of the pictures were taken by Aron, Jordan and/or Jessi... so that might explain the... "perspective" of some of them.

I should mention that in the middle of the 93 photos there are about a dozen of last weekend when, while Eric was in Philadelphia for a conferences, my dad and I took the kids to a think called "Sugar Camp Days" at Bendix Woods. They make syrup from the maple trees in Bendix Woods and once a year, for one weekend, they have an all-you-can eat pancake and sausage breakfast (with loads of syrup, of course) and then a tour of the grounds including how they make the syrup and kettle corn. And, of course, there is an awesome playground.

Oh, and then there are a few pictures of Aron and Jordan dancing in the living room before bed... Aron decided Jordan shouldn't be the only one who wears a nightgown, so he borrowed one from her.

The pictures after those are the ones from, mostly, kids hands.

Hope you are all doing well.

The Stewarts

Monday, January 22, 2007


- for those who may not speak "3 and a half"

On Friday - This is, to Aron, anything that is to happen (or he WISHES would happen) in the future. For example, "On Friday, I'm going to go to the beach." or "I'll pick up my toys On Friday."

Last Night - This is, to Aron, anything that has happened in the past. "Last night I had cereal." or "Last night KC got hurt" (which was actually Christmas Eve).

I NEED - This is, mostly to Aron, but also sometimes to Jordan , the phrase used to express anything their little hearts desire. "I NEED a tractor." or "I NEED cereal."

I Can't - This is pretty much the opposite of I NEED, but also replaces "doesn't" or "won't". So "I Can't eat my dinner, I'll eat it On Friday." or "It (which could be any toy or person or whatever) Can't work."

This has been your language lesson for the day... carry on.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Peanuts and Popcorn

January 13, 2007

Some days with twins, especially twins who are 3 ½ years old are more difficult that others. All days are an adventure.
On Saturday, January 13th Eric had to be out of the house by 6:00 a.m. to drive down to Indianapolis for some soccer clinic type thingy. Papa Pete had a Chorus thingy in Lansing, MI so was gone all day. I had made plans earlier in the week to spend sometime with Julia and Avery during the day and the night before had confirmed going over to their house for dinner and also watching Julia and Avery for an hour ½ at lunchtime while their parents ran some errands.

Saturday morning found me NOT in the mood to get out of bed – mostly because of what felt like a sinus infection under my right eye. When I did finally emerge from my bedroom I found my two adorable children practically naked (they had on underwear but had removed their pajamas) in a large box of packing peanuts. They told me they were swimming in their pool. It was too precious – I took a picture.

The reason we were up to our necks in packing peanuts was because the gifts from our Albuquerque Christmas had arrived the before. In fact, Eric and the kids had emptied the beanbag chairs, washed the fabric of the bags and refilled the beanbag chairs with peanuts from the mailing. What I know now, but didn’t then, is that these particular bean bag chairs have two zippers, one easy and one more difficult to open. Upon refilling only the easy zipper had been re-zipped.

At this point I called Julia and Avery’s parents to let them know that they might as well bring the kids over to our house, no worse damage could really be done and for some reason packing peanuts and a box is about the MOST FACINATING THING EVER in the mind of a 3 year old. It would prove to be equally fascinating to a 2 year old and a 5 year old.

I got a little perturbed when, while I was trying to clean up the main room where most of the mess occurred, the four of them took it upon themselves to distribute the mess further… into the kids’ bedroom.

All in all, however, it is hard to argue with something that keeps toddlers so ultimately enthralled for, really, all day long. At one point I decided that really, the only way to clean up the mess was to bring in the leaf blower, which has a vacuum component. And, actually, that’s worked well.

I am certain we will be finding bits of Styrofoam all around the house for YEARS to come. In the end, it’s a great story… one that I will inflict upon them when they have 3 year olds of their own… and in the VERY end, they are just too cute to be upset with for very long… Here is an on-line photo album of the whole event: