Thursday, December 22, 2011

2011...a Family Review

Brendan...has been busy this year working (still) as a city engineer in Birmingham, leaving early in the morning but coming home for dinner consistently (he doesn't have to stay late at this job, thank goodness!). He said he won a "major award" for some project or other, but it never made it home to our front window. Brendan also:
  • ran a marathon in October because his father-in-law asked him if he wanted to (and who can say no to a father-in-law)...I don't think he really wanted to at first...
  • And now he is crazy...he runs 10-15 miles on the weekend "just for fun" ... even though he's NOT training for another marathon. He's just crazy:)
  • instigated an ongoing game of "Nerf Gun Fighting" between him and the kids...started last Christmas when he got the gun in a white elephant exchange. The excitement (for everyone) has not really worn off yet...
  • enjoys doing art projects with the girls, and instigated a "Sunday art" time on Sunday afternoons
  • learned to change car oil, and has been taking care of our cars
  • did a few triathlons this past summer (before the marathon)... teaching at Daycroft Montessori school, and keeping the house (mostly) running smoothly. She loves teaching, and she loves being home. She loves that being a teacher means lots of vacation time! She also:
  • just got an iPhone!!! And has quickly realized how dependent she will soon become on it
  • Misses cooking real meals, but is getting faster and more efficient in the kitchen.
  • Is not a running-fool like her husband, but likes to run a few miles here and there...Will probably never run a marathon, but will run a (shorter) race or two every summer:)
  • Realizes that she leads a full but rather "unexciting" life. She looks forward to doing exciting things at some point in the future, when the kids are older and life is less hectic. That day will come, right??
Geno....has had a nice year in 3rd grade so far. He is learning alot, and has made some good friends at school. Everyone likes Gene- he is friendly, fun to play with, and good at both sports and schoolwork. He treats his classmates well, and plays with everyone. He also:
  • Has learned to run (it's been a family thing lately!) and thinks running a mile is nothing. He "accidentally" ran a whole 5k without stopping, when he was really going to run just 1. 5 miles and then walk a while
  • loves to play Wii sports, and chess on the computer
  • likes to sing, and was in the school choir this year, following in the footsteps of Grandpa Hendricks.
  • plays basketball in the driveway against the garage door 9but just got a Nerf Hoop for inside, and has been playing with it constantly!
  • never wants to wear a jacket
  • is plowing through the Suzuki piano book...tried for the first time to play Go Tell Aunt Rhody "hands together" three days ago, and now can play the whole thing, quickly and with no mistakes.
  • is very kind to Jane and Lucy, when he wants to be:) Otherwise he can be a tease...
  • loves to play games, and not by himself anymore. He gets the girls to play with him...and they can! in her 1st grade year at Daycroft. She is a "social butterfly" I suppose, and has lots of friends. She tends to choose one friend to be her "best friend" of the month, and it switches periodically. I don't know if her friends know who is Lucy's bff at which moment...she is still pretty friendly to everyone. Lucy is doing really well in school academically- her teachers just comment on how slow she can be at times. She is a thinker and project-planner, and has trouble focusing on what someone else wants her to be doing. But she does really nice work when she tries. And we're working on speed at home:) Lucy also:
  • thinks "a pillow pet is actually more useful than a stuffed animal"...trying to convince us she needs one
  • likes to sing, is not old enough to be in choir yet, but is in a (annoying to certain siblings) stage of wanting to sing out loud (but to herself really) in the car, in the bathroom...basically anywhere she is
  • loves to collect bugs, but really wants a pet hamster
  • has started to hide in random places around the house, wait till someone comes by, and then yell, "Ambush!!!" and jump out, preferably with the nerf gun mentioned above.
  • is fascinated by things like a taken-apart dustbuster
  • got a little button that said, "Smarty Pants". Gene said that's because she was the smartest...she replied, "Yeah, cause sometimes I act like the mom of the house."
  • makes us laugh every day with her witticisms! in her second year of preschool at Daycroft, as one of the older kids this year. She has become very social as well. Last year she played mostly by herself, and didn't participate during group times. This year she is friends with lots of children, talks often during group times, and is learning to share her best friend with other children in her class. She is our only child who has gone to a real preschool, and I think this age is tricky for figuring out friendships. She spends almost 8 hours every day with these children (much longer than I'd prefer in an ideal world), whereas Gene and Lucy at her age played with a friend for maybe 2-3 hours once a week. So, she's doing fine all things considered:) She's at the top of her class academically, and is enjoying herself very much. Her biggest accomplishment thus far is learning to write numbers and letters... She also:
  • does not like to hear a toilet flush, and will cover her ears every time
  • can make toast and peanut butter sandwiches, and loves to
  • used to cry if she saw a bug, then changed her tune once Lucy started collecting them. Now she loves bugs!
  • finally is learning to put her face in the water...may be a fish next summer...
  • loves to be fancy. Loves her (now broken) pink gel sandals that really have no business being worn in the winter. Loves them so much that she cut off the broken strap, cut the other one to match, and wore them all day yesterday, inside and out.
Well, there are many more things that could be mentioned...but if you're curious, just scroll down and read some past posts. At least they'll give you a glimpse of what we were up to! Many more pictures will be posted in the coming year, now that Hannah has above-mentioned I-phone, that can take good pictures and is easily portable...

Merry Christmas everyone reading this! May God grant you boatloads of love, joy and peace in the coming year... We love and appreciate all of our family members and friends, and look forward to sharing our lives with you in 2012!

~The Cousinos

Monday, December 19, 2011

5 minutes or less...

To cover the last 2 months...hmm. Here are a few thoughts of what I remember from that time, in no particular order:

-nobody has been sick (until this morning...Jane is sniffling)

-the girls have stuck together like glue, creating art and building blocks again.

-Gene is up to Go Tell Aunt Rhody in Suzuki book 1. He is basically going on his own, with a little help, until piano lessons resume again probably in the summer. He has thrown in a few Christmas carols from a book he found in the piano bench.

-the girls can (and did) wrap their own Christmas presents for their teachers. I am pretty much not needed...and the presents actually look pretty good:)

-Gene ran a 5K on Thanksgiving, without stopping(!) and Lucy ran a mile. Jane was going to run a mile, until she got assigned to be with her grandma, and conned her into giving a piggy back for much of the race!

-everyone has secret things they're making at school

-we rang the bells for the red Salvation Army bucket, and sang Christmas carols for an hour with my sisters and dad.

A few quotes and stories:

-Gene and his friend Mitch call each other "Dude" a lot now when they're together. Lucy had been overhearing, and one morning she commented to Jane while they were coloring pictures: "They call each other Dude. Maybe we should call each other...Dudette."

-Jane, playing chess with Gene, "Now my kings are SUPER mad at your kings!"

-Gene didn't see the gallon of milk that was on the table with the cereal boxes when he came down for breakfast one morning. When I came down, there were two (almost full) gallons on the table. His only comment, "I just didn't see it!" (Grandma he following in his Grandpa's footsteps in this way as well?")

-Jane was moving things around in the box we had given her to keep her special things in. She explained, "I am organizing Treasure Land."

-Lucy and Jane were playing/exercising with the small weights we have in our family room...5 lbs each. Lucy put them on the couch for a moment, and for some reason lay down on the floor right next to the couch. I heard a thud and a cry, and when I ran over she was sobbing on the floor with a huge welt on her forehead. Needless to say, there is a new house rule of where not to put the weights, and the girls are getting 1 and 2 lb weights for Christmas!

Over and out.

Monday, November 14, 2011


All three kids celebrated their birthdays in the last couple is an update, mostly in pictures:

Her favorite thing at the time was zebras...because they were "fancy".

A "scooter/bike" pedals, lightweight...awesome!

Kids came over for a birthday party...

They colored a big sign to hang on the wall...

They made fruit-loop necklaces...

They dressed up and paraded around the house...

First time:

Second time:

Grand finale:

Maybe she was a little partied out after that...

Then Geno's turn in October...

A new jacket (that he was just thrilled to try on)...

Football party with a few friends at a local park...

If I had known this was the only "cake" picture I would take, I would have taken a better one!

Then, Lucy's turn (finally!)

She got a much-longed-for umbrella. To share with Jane, of course. But maybe we should have gotten Jane her own...

It was a beautiful fall day, made much better by wearing a party hat...

She had a kid-party too, and they also decorated a wall-poster.

Then they made their own pizzas...

Then they decorated and ate their own cupcakes...

Then, they decorated and made and created to their heart's delight!

Happy Birthday to my three very wonderful kids!


I just had a realization about work and getting things done in general...when I make a huge "to-do list" (usually on a Saturday), my goal is generally to get all those things done before I go to bed. No matter what I put on it, or how many things, I won't feel happy unless I finish them all. So I'm usually just setting myself up for failure since it would generally be impossible to finish everything.

Today I am home with Janie (who threw up this morning, and then pretended it had never happened and asked for food and has been happily playing all morning...) and started thinking about all the extra things I could accomplish on a day when I usually would be at school. I could catch up and actually be ahead in some areas of life. I could prep all the dinners for the week, plan for thanksgiving, do extra laundry, do, do, do... But what is the point? So for a few days I would have slightly less work to do, at the expense of a whole day slaving away to get ahead.

I don't think it really matters if we're slightly behind or slightly ahead. The point of work is to take care of ourselves, take care of our families, and our belongings. It will always be there- work will never completely go away. It is meant to be done, every day (except Sunday) and that's all there is to it. If we get ahead one day, we'll just find more to do the next day. If we stress about how much work we have to do, we'll just stress some more the next day.

I am going to try and do my work diligently, without dawdling, but also without hyperventilating because of the massive amount of work I think I have. Yes, during some periods of life there is more work to do than others, but I just need to acknowledge that...and JUST DO IT.

God grant us all peace and joy as we complete our God-given tasks:)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September Update

Sorry, no catchy titles and no pictures right now. But I did want to post something! I was asked two weeks ago to be a "real" preschool teacher at the school we were last year, and we had a week to get the classroom ready. It's been a whirlwind since then. This was our third day of school with the little ones, and it's been really great, and really overwhelming at the same time. Everything has gone really well so far, much better than I expected, but I have a lot of ideas and no time to think about them or implement them. Fall is always a busy time for our family, but this is insane!

So...we'll see how it goes. We're trying not to schedule anything extra right now, and do the bare minimum around the house. But here's what's on our plates for the next couple months:
-I leave the house (with kids ready for school) at 7:15 every morning
-come home (with Jane) at 1:15.
-our neighbor Michael comes over two afternoons a week for preschool at our house (which I'm loving- he's such a great kid!)
-one afternoon is for errands (so we don't go home right away)
-pick up big kids at school (leave house at 3, back at 4:00)
-then an hour to unwind, which is filled with emptying backpacks, sharing stories from the day, etc.
-dinnertime comes all too soon, then the bedtime routine starts. Kids in bed by 7:30ish, then lunch-making and catching up on stuff.

-Brendan is training for the Chicago marathon in October, so he's going out running about 4 days a week.
-I am in charge of registration for the women's retreat at our church, which is coming up in a month. I have not done registration before, and probably wouldn't have volunteered to do it had I known I'd be teaching. But I did, and I am, so I'll just see how it goes...from different sources it's "not that bad, kind of enjoyable" and "crazy hectic". I'll take the former, please!
-Jane's birthday was a few days ago, and she's having a little kid party soon (again, planned before the teaching job)
-there's a whole bunch more, but those are the basics.

*Sorry to bore you with our schedule, but that's how it is, folks. I haven't taken many pictures recently, but I'll try to post some soon and get back to our "pictures with a few words" type posts.

Monday, August 1, 2011


At the beginning of July, Brendan competed in the Ann Arbor Triathlon, and we all came to watch. Gene and Lucy were so excited to be going, they promptly fell asleep in the car on the way there...

Jane wasn't sleepy, so she worked on curling her tongue.

The weather was great, there were a lot of people there, and the horn sounded for the start. Swimming is first.

Brendan didn't want anyone to see him in his swim cap, but I got most of him as he ran up to get his bike.

And then he came it toward the finish...still running!

Afterward, everyone jumped in the lake because it was so hot. We had forgotten the bathing suits, though.

Then we had some normal summer days at home. Wearing sundresses...

Lucy practiced tying... (and Jane's getting in on it, too)

Geno mowed a few strips of the lawn (!!!)...

And chopped some nuts...

And in really random news, a cutting board toppled over one morning and smushed the butter, and broke the butter plate. It was worthy of a picture, we thought!

In mid-July, Lucy went to Safety Town with with some friends who had also signed up. Just great! I forget the name of this bear, but he had something to do with safety...

Aunt Reenie had a party, because the VANDERVEENS WERE BACK IN TOWN!! Jane was so excited to see Ellie, and we were all happy to see everyone:) The girls started out eating their dinner sitting inside the wading pool, but then moved out so it could be filled up.

Then we went on vacation! After a five-hour drive up north, we were all glad to get there.

What were we going to do now?

Well, climb on the bunk beds...

Take a bath in the foot-rinsing bin...

Do art at the beach...

Pose for pictures...

Throw water balloons...

And relax...

It was so hot that week, we pretty much lived at the beach. No complaints, here. Lucy also got some practice on her 2-wheeler, Hannah got some practice on her road bike, and Brendan played a lot of volleyball and swam across the lake. Gene played tennis and shuffleboard, and Jane played with whatever Ellie was playing with.

Then we had to come home...

But we have visited Grandma's pool many times since then. That kind of made us feel better, since it was (still) very hot.

All the kids like the rafts, and Jane wears her waterwings from the moment we get there, till it's time to go home.

Snack at the pool...

It's been a great summer so far! Here's to a few more good weeks before school starts.