Monday, January 7, 2013

We're still kickin'!

I guess I have established a new standard for "not so periodic" updates.  Gosh, has it really been that long?  Let's not figure out how long it as been...I'm just not going to go there.

So what has the Shibata Household been up to since we've last surfaced?  There were end of the summer outings with the kids and a vacation with friends.  There were weekend trips to see family and a wedding.  Birthdays were celebrated, sometimes multiple times.  Of course there was school and all that goes along with it, the first day back, class field trips and celebrations, picture day, lunch duties, school programs, and even homework.  There has been volleyball in the forms of serving as camp director, volunteering at various practices and even a good bit of playing for fun (yay!).  There has been work and the expected challenges and stresses that go along with it.  There has been grad school and late night study sessions.  There were the little holidays that included costumes and candy and BIG holidays, also celebrated multiple times.  And in the midst of all that, our lives are filled with everyday blessings, so many of which we have to remind ourselves to enjoy.  The kids have been growing and changing, providing us with frustrations, utter joys, and many opportunities to grow.  We. are. blessed.

Marie is almost halfway through her 1st grade year.  She is thriving.  It is not uncommon for her to come home from school and "play school".  She claims her favorite subject is math.  Don't get me wrong, she is good at math and is quick to pick up the concepts.  But she is very good at reading and reads well beyond her grade level.  According to her teacher, she gets along with everyone and has been known to say that she has 23 friends at school (there are 24 in her class).  She has always been mom's helper, but she is really turning into a big help around the house.  She is a good playmate for her younger brothers, as long as she doesn't try to boss them around too much.  Marie tried ballet for the first time last fall and LOVES it.  This was a completely new arena for us, definitely embarking into the unknown.  She took to it right away, and to the untrained eye, you can't tell that she is the only one of her classmates that hasn't been dancing for two years.  Marie seems to have a natural grace that she most definitely did not get from her mom.

Joey is just recently four years old!  He had been looking forward to this age for quite some time and had developed quite the list of Thomas the train characters and accessories to have a response if anyone were to ask him what he wanted for his birthday or for Christmas.  He has such a good heart and is generous beyond his times of course.  For example, he didn't think twice when a certain uncle jokingly asked for his last bite of Christmas cookie.  Joey loves "screen time", whether it be TV or on the computer.  We almost always limit "screen time" to educational games and shows.  (Note:  "We" does NOT include Grandpa.)  As a result, Joey has started sounding out letters and picking out an occasional word.  He also frequently shares random science facts that he learns from Sid (the Science Kid).  He recently informed Jon that it was actually friction that slowed him down as he was sliding across our hallway in his socks.  Speaking of sliding, it is such a relief that we finally have snow.  Finally, you might ask?  Yes, finally.  He has only been asking about sledding since June.  Joey has a wonderful smile and sense of humor and makes us smile even when he's not trying.  He has got to be the slowest kid at getting dressed and one morning I asked, "Joey.  Why do you still not have your clothes on?"  His response: "Well there was dirt in my belly button!"

Stevie is our two-year-old that is not quite two.  That is he acts like and gives us as much grief as a two-year-old.  Yet Jon (rightly) contends that he makes me laugh more than the others did, particularly at things he should not be doing.  Stevie has been trying to keep up with Marie and Joey from birth it seems.  Anything they have or are doing, he wants to have and be doing.  He climbs and runs, stays up late and takes or "ruins" Joey's toys.  His laugh is contagious and he is a ham.  He is starting to talk more and is finding it less frustrating that we don't know what he wants or is saying.  He loves hockey, watching or playing it.  He is Grandpa's boy, constantly talking about Grandpa's tractor even though Stevie wouldn't ride in it during our last visit.  He is fascinated with tunnels, for cars or trains and ones that he imagines like under tables, chairs, blankets, or a plethora of other things.  We sometimes call him, "the destroyer" which goes along with the fact that he has a particular love for hammers.  And boy, you should see his face if you even mention the word "cookie".

And as for Jon and me, we are still at our same jobs and still for the most part enjoy them.  We are thankful to have them for sure, and I am especially thankful that I can maintain working part-time so that I can be at home with my kids and see them as they grow.  Jon is still working toward his graduate degree, but (I think) the end is in sight.  I have really enjoyed being able to play more volleyball than I have in years (pregnancies will do that I guess).  Big thanks to Jon for handling the kids while I'm off getting exercise and having fun.  We all continue to be blessed with good health, good friends, and wonderful family.  If we could ask for one thing, it would perhaps be time, but then I'm sure we would fill it up with more of this thing called life.  So I guess when it comes down to it, we wouldn't change a thing.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Our Summer Trip to Pittsburgh

Since we had just gotten back from an extended weekend in Illinois, we decided to make our trip during shut-down week (over the Fourth of July) a bit shorter.  We spent a couple of days working at work (Peg) and around the house (Jon).  It was a good chance to get our pool fixed and back up and usable after a elusive leak put it out of commission for the first month of our hot summer.  It ended up being a pretty costly repair, but the kids sure to love it.  We've gotten their agreement that they will continue to use and enjoy it for all of the adolescent and teenage years…so that we can get our return on investment.

We took off on July 4th and drove to Ohio to spend a couple of days with Grandma and Grandpa Shibata.  We enjoyed watching and flying Grandpa's remote control helicopter and airplane and a dip in the pool.  Of course it wouldn't be a trip to Grandpa's house without a couple of rides on his golf cart.

On Thursday night, we drove over to Pittsburgh to stay with Aunt Jess and get ready for the rest of the Pittsburgh activities.  We spent Friday with Aunt Jess and Uncle James' family.  We took a Ducky Tour of Pittsburgh.  It was pretty interesting, driving around downtown Pittsburgh learning about all the history and then going out on the river (just the Ohio river, not the Allegheny or Monongahela) for a short boat ride.  The kids even enjoyed it and JJ got to drive the boat!  He was the only one brave enough.  That evening we had a cookout with the cousins and Joey had his very first sleepover!  We were a bit surprised that he wanted to stay even though Marie didn't, but it turns out that he did great!  We are so blessed to have wonderful family and cousins that our kids can be close with!

On Saturday we headed back over to Uncle James' for Gracie's 3rd birthday party.  There was lots more playing (thank goodness for water toys), visiting, eating, to go with the cake and presents.  We learned that Stevie is VERY fond of Joy (age 6 months) and we think just likes babies in general.  He was actually upset with me when I gave Joy a reprieve from sitting on his lap.  She tolerated him very well, but a girl can only take so much!  We were also pleasantly surprised that Uncle Joel, Aunt Jen, and TJ made the trip over right after their return to the States from Kazakhstan.  It's not all that often that we have ALL the Shibata's together and our time flew by quickly.

Our drive back to Michigan on Sunday went smoothly and quickly.  We stopped again in Ohio and had lunch with Grandma and Grandpa Shibata and made a quick trip to a park.  Overall, it was another successful and enjoyable shut-down week trip. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

June Recap

It's hard to believe that August is almost upon us!  I would ponder how fast time flies by, wonder how it has been so long since our last post, and give my excuse for how busy we've been, but I'm sure you are all in the same boat.  Nuff said.

The first weekend of June, Marie went on her first "date."  She and Jon attended the Daddy Daughter Dance at our church.  The theme was Little House on the Prairie and all were encouraged to dress in appropriate attire.  This gave me an excuse to brush off my sewing machine and make a dress for Marie.  I don't often get to sew and it seems like a project is the perfect excuse for me to get my fix.  It ended up being a bit rushed, but I thought the finished product turned out well.  I think Marie and Jon both had a good time since there were quite a few of their friends, both dads and daughters, that also went.

Marie no sooner finished her kindergarten year than we started full steam ahead into our summer activities.  (Stevie was also recovering from a fairly bad case of Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease, so a change of pace was warmly welcomed!)  The kids got to go on their annual trip to the strawberry patch, where we picked both berries and sugar snap peas.  All three of the kids did some picking this year.  It didn't take Stevie too long to realize that the little red ones were yummy!  It just so happened that Grandma and Grandpa Meinhart were also visiting, so that made things all the more fun and much easier on me!

Both Marie and Joey also started their soccer league the second weekend of June.  This was our first experience with our kids playing "organized" sports.  It was a bit comical at times watching the pack of 3-4 year-olds congregate around the ball.  Both the kids learned a bit and we did see some improvement in both skill and basic understanding of the game.  We will see if their interest is maintained and whether we try another season sometime.

Our trip for the month of June was a visit to Illinois, coordinated around the wedding of my cousin, Kelly.  We had been looking forward to this wedding for some time.  I used to babysit for Kel and her siblings and she married the nephew of one of my dear friends from high school.  We made the trip worth it and took a few days of vacation to spend down there.  Uncle Mark, Aunt Sarah, and Ella as well as Uncle Matt and Liz were also there.  The kids had a blast with all the family, putting up Grandpa's tent (that they never ended up sleeping in), going fishing, making and eating s'mores, taking care of the kitties, not to mention going to the wedding.  As usual, it was a wonderful, packed full of fun, trip and a great time to catch up with family.