Pig Pen

Kyle’s most normal state: 

(The picture doesn’t show the black palms of his hands or the 3 wipes that I had already used that were all black now too) 😀

JLT – 4 Years

Getting tucked in this past weekend:

Me: Jake, I want you to lay as still as a statue and close your eyes. (As I am covering him up with a blanket)

Jake: giggling…. Silly Mommy!  I am not a statue; I am a four-year old BOY!

My buddy, Jake, turned 4 on Saturday.  4 years old, officially a child, not a toddler anymore (at least in my eyes).   He can carry on a conversation with any adult, tell (some) jokes that make sense and laughs at all the right times in movies, even at jokes I don’t think he should understand yet.

He started off his birthday celebrations with his choice for supper – biscuits and gravy, then a party of minion cookies and ice cream with his parents, siblings, grandparents, and godparents on Friday night.    After he was done opening all of the gifts, we told him that he had one more gift to get.  Daddy went outside to get a new (to Jake) bike and brought it in the house – Jake walked past it and said – where is my gift?   We showed Jacob the bike – and he said “that bike is not a gift.”*

Saturday morning we played with all his awesome new toys and games, had pizza for lunch and had their favorite babysitter over in the evening while Jason and I went to see Rodney Carrington in Terre Haute.   Sunday we celebrated his cousin’s birthday at their house with lots of playing, then home for naps.  Monday he got to celebrate at Pam’s house with his day care friends and Tuesday he got to celebrate at school with his classmates!!  (He brought them vanilla “wifers” and m and m’s!)  What a lucky little boy!!


Jake, you are a one of a kind.  You are our first child with an outgoing personality… you don’t know a stranger and embrace most situations with a huge smile and the attitude that it is a new adventure.  You make me laugh one second and want to scream the next with your persistence and stubbornness!  We love you more than words and are so happy you are ours!

– Electronics – especially Wii (Mario Kart), ipods (racing games), leapster

-Foods: Cheese its, Orange Buttery Crackers (peanut butter sandwich crackers), Peanut Butter sandwich with peanut butter,  pentagons (oyster crackers), pretzel sticks, chex mix, chocolate pudding, cereal bars, puffies (reece’s puff cereal), MILK, carrots, green beans, squeezy applesauce, bread sticks, fish sticks, teeter tots (tator tots), you will not eat much fruit, but the occasional banana.

-you love push bikes and cars, but are still hesitant to try anything with a pedal.

-PARKS! – you love the parks and the slides and climbing and running

-Pre-School!  – Everyday, since the first day, you have a huge smile on your face and are literally bouncing in your seat as the teacher comes out to the car to get you.  She said you are a joy t have in class, always smiling!   You do get a little disgruntled about the fact that the slide has a “STOP” sign and can only be used at the end of the day, not all day!  I went on a field trip with you a couple of days before your birthday to the Ballard Nature Center and seeing you “in action” around your teachers and classmates made me smile!  You are full of confidence and I hope you never lose it!!!

*You watched me buy the bike at a garage sale, which I think is part of the reason you did not view it as a gift, since it was not a surprise! J

Survival Mode

Ever since school has started I feel like I never sit down while I am at home.  There is always SOMETHING to do or someone pulling on my hand to show me something, or requesting I get them something, or wanting me to do something with them.  It’s like this year round, but add in the “homework factor” and that starves our after work evenings of another hour of time that the boys have to stay entertained on their own while my attention gets focused on helping the girls with homework.    It’s all very exhausting and draining (for me and Jason)…. but then there are those snippets of time where the kids say or do something so bizarre that it just makes me and Jason stop and belly laugh for a few minutes…. thank goodness for goofy kids!

Jake walking down the steps where Katie and I were already at:  “Hey Hey Hey… Look who it is!!” (in a sing song voice)

Jake standing over the top of Kyle, petting his head, who was sitting on the ground: “Oh Look a little puppy.”

Kyle: {Two heavy breaths}  – (Which happens to be his puppy noise)

After bath Kyle wanted to join in the impromptu chocolate pudding party that was happening in the kitchen, so he threw off his towel and joined us naked.   Katie looked at him and said “Kyle put some clothes on, you are being disrespectful to Jesus.”

My mom’s dog stayed with us while she was away in Italy for 8 days.   Toby was getting reprimanded for something by Jason in front of Jacob.  Toby was up on the chair, so Jake crawled up to the chair and got eye level with Toby and said “Toby, did you mess up the seal in the door?” In very a serious tone.  When Jason told him to get out of Toby’s face, Jake replied “Oh yeah, I forgot!”   (That is his typical answer, and said very quickly)

Kyle is still not talking clearly, but his personality is emerging quickly, especially in the last few weeks, he has learned to throw out little ornery grins at just the right time, and to fake belly laugh, and how to get someone’s attention by repeating their name, when they finally say “What” he just smiles and walks away.

JLT – Preschool 15-16

Jake had his first day of preschool today.   He is going 2 mornings a week at St Anthony’s Pup’s Patch.  He is in the 3 year old class this year.   He has been asking to go to school since last fall, so when it came time to make the decision to put him in 2 years of preschool versus one, the decision was made easier by his eagerness to go.   The girls are THRILLED to have their little brother in the building with them. And I am told by Jake, that on his first day he even saw Katie in the hallway (which I am quite sure made his sister’s day and his too!)    He had no hesitations about getting out of the van and going with the teacher this morning, but the first thing he asked, “Can I just go with my sisters to their room today?”  When Ms. Renee explained that he had new friends waiting for him, he asked how many, she told him 10 so far and then he jumped out of the van, ready to go meet his new friends.

Kyle and I drove away just the two of us, Kyle took it very well, which surprised me.  I was sure that he would throw a fit since he was being left behind in the van.   But not a word out of him.*

We picked Jake back up 3 hours later and he was so excited.  He waved as he marched out of the door to the van and was quick to tell me that the slide was CLOSED! And that he got to play with Playdough all day!!!   He said “There was a BIG RED STOP SIGN next to the slide, which meant it was closed, and I didn’t get to go play on the park outside, but I did get to play with playdough and have a snack!”   He can’t recall any new friends’ names, but is already asking when he can go back.   I asked if he had any homework and he just giggled and said “No Silly Mommy!”  :-)

I think it is easy to say his first day was a success!


*Kyle and I made a trip to 2 banks, Walmart, Goodwill, and Aldi while Jake was at school.  He weaseled his way into a new Thomas the Train and had a BLAST having all the attention showered on him (which could explain why he didn’t throw any kind of fit when he was left behind alone with mom).   Within the first 5 foot of Walmart we saw, bananas, minions, and a TV display…. Needless to say his day was made with three of his favorites all right there.    I had so much fun playing “at home mom” today!!!   Back to reality tomorrow!!

Summer 2015, winding down

The lazy days (evenings) of summer are about over…. Tomorrow we go back to school and back to evening homework battles and the stress of school.

There is a lot that has been going on around here that I haven’t blogged about, where is the time?!?

So I am going to try to catch it all up in one post, here goes:

This summer we have been to:

-Wolf Creek camping

-Big Splash Indoor Water Park, French Lick, IN

-Flora Charley Brown Park camping

-Ferne Clyffe camping

-Six Flags, St Louis

-Mattoon Lytle Pool for swimming

-The boys had their first Charger ride

-Rend Lake camping

-Tuscola, Champaign shopping

-Pond swimming several times

-PLUS all the other countless trips and day outings that the grandmas have taken the girls to do this summer!

We had such a good summer, the kids LOVE camping and swimming and I am so glad that they do, because Jason and I love it too.   The kids have had their 1 year anniversary at a different sitter.  The girls spent 4 days a week there this summer, and I think they completely enjoyed it, never complaining about having to go.

We have more camping trips and maybe a day trip to celebrate Jake’s birthday in the works for this fall, so the fun is not over yet!!

An update on the kids:

Kyle  (Carl) – SO SO ornery….  He is constantly getting into something he shouldn’t be, with a look of determination on his face.  He RUNS everywhere he goes, he can’t sit still for more than 3 seconds and he has a very large obsession with THOMAS the TRAIN!   He is still in speech therapy and we are hearing more words, but he’s got a ways to go.   Jake was the same way, he was in speech a good 8 months before everything clicked and he took off talking.  He thinks he is ready to be out of the crib, but has proven the last few nights that he still needs to be caged….we do let him roam the room for a few minutes before putting him in now, which seems to satisfy him.

Jacob (Jake) – The other day he informed Jason that his name was not Jacob LEE Thoele, it is Jacob Wii Thoele…..   Seriously this kid has an addiction to Mario Kart and nick Jr on the ipod.   He will be starting school in a few weeks (2 days a week) and he can’t wait.   Since he is 3 now he is allowed to jump off of the dock at home and swim, and boy does he love that too.   He is the first one in – hollering CANNON BALL  – as he runs off the end and always the last one out, being pulled out unwillingly by me or Jason.   He has taken to sleeping on the floor of his room instead of his bed, for whatever reason he sleeps much better, so I don’t question it and just go with it.   He cracks us up daily with his comments and observations on life.

Katie – Katie started piano lessons this summer.  She is picking it up and I think she really likes it.   She is nervous about school starting, but my fingers are crossed that this year she will open up at least a little bit with her classmates.

Abby – Abby is maturing so much…. It blows my mind that I am starting to see little snips of time when she totally acts like a mature person!   She loves her brothers, fights to the death with her sister and loves to talk!    She tells many, very detailed stories on a regular basis!

Wish us luck with the upcoming school year, and we wish the same to you!!

Rain Rain…..

It’s Sunday morning and I am watching it rain outside, again….. that is totally the theme for this summer… Rain, Rain, Rain!

Today we were suppose to take the kids to a pool to swim and we woke up to rain and it is not looking promising that it is going to clear up anytime soon today.  Disappointment abounds in this house right now.

I told Jake that his sisters were sure upset because they want to go swimming and we can’t because of the rain.  He responded, “I know what to do!  I will blow this rain right out of here!” then proceeded to walk up to the window and blow as hard as he could.   He shrugged his shoulders, turned around to me and said “Hm, I guess that didn’t work.”    :-)

Despite the rain, I think we are making the most out of our summer.  We have been on 3 camping trips already, Big Splash for an overnight trip, Six Flags for a day trip (without the boys) and been swimming in the pond a couple of times.  Friday evening we even had our friends over to hang out and have a few drinks.   So all in all a great summer.

Kyle is still in speech and we are hearing new words on a regular basis, but still not putting words together or saying things that other people can understand easily.    But he will get there, slowly but surely.     The girls are not ready to see summer come to an end and a new school year start, but Jake sure is.  At least 4 times a week he asks if ti is time for school to start yet!

That’s all I know on this dreary Sunday morning!

French Lick – Big Splash – 2015

Sunday morning (in early June) we got up and got dressed, ate breakfast and hopped in the van for the drive to French Lick, Indiana.   We got on the road even a little earlier than we had hoped too.   The ride was pretty uneventful.  Lots of questions, little bit of whining, etc.    We made one stop in a no name town for Jason to use the restroom and get a drink.  I had him ask the gal in the gas station where the city park was so that the kids could stretch their legs, as we had been driving for a couple of hours.   The clerk laughed at him and said “in this town?” so we pulled over on a side road by the fairground barns and let the kids get out of the car and walk around for a couple of minutes.  We piled back in and headed back down the road.   The last part of the trip was very curvy roads and lots of hills, but was very pretty country.   We stopped again at the last town before French Lick for Katie to use the bathroom.

We finally arrived in French Lick and drove straight to the train museum, I was expecting this to be Kyle’s favorite part of the trip…. But I was wrong…. Too much stuff that he could not get into, onto, or touch and he just basically freaked out the entire time we were there.   I took the 3 older kids to the bathroom while Jason handled the screamer; in there Jake managed to get LOTS of hand soap IN his eyes – so I had to deal with my own screaming mess.  By this point I was ready to get away from the stares of the other people and out of the heat, it was hot and humid.  We headed for the McDonalds in town (knowing that chicken nuggets – ALWAYS calm Kyle down) and went in.   The place was packed, only one open table and it was a table for 4 people.   We made it work, with Kyle on my lap.  We got our bellies full and then headed out to go to the water park.  As we left the very crowded restaurant, Jake was sure to tell everyone we saw “Goodbye!  See you later! I am going to the pool park now!”

We went to the Big Splash hotel and indoor water park.   We got there several hours before check in, but they had our room ready so we were able to go right in to get changed and go down to the water park.  Our room had 2 sets of bunk beds and a king size bed in it.  It was a cool setup and I wish more hotels had it for traveling families!     Kyle LOVED the top bunk; I wasn’t such a fan, as he kept leaning over the wall to wave at me!    We all got our swim gear on and headed down to the water park.  It took the kids a bit to get comfortable with the new surroundings, but once they did, they had a great time.  If we would have had  a fit bit on Kyle and Jake I think they would have easily each got a million steps in!!  They were constantly on the go running up the play structure to go down the water slides or to play with the water features.  Jake made friends with every kid playing and Kyle would drag Jason and I up to the slides and go down with us – covering his eyes with his hands each time!   The girls’ favorite part was swimming in the outdoor pool.     After swimming a few hours on Sunday afternoon, taking a break for the boys to nap in the hotel room and eating pizza in the room and the n going back down to the water park for a while – we lured the kids out of the water park with the promise of ice cream.  We went to the local DQ and waited in line for an eternity to get the ice cream, luckily we opted for the drive thru and had the DVD player to keep the kids occupied.  We ate our ice cream (or threw it on the ground, if you are Kyle) and then went to sleep.


Monday morning we got up and went down for breakfast and then back up to the room to pack up. Loaded up the car and then went back to the water park for another couple hours.  Kyle was shot after the first 45 minutes and just cried after that.  So I sat down in a chair with him and he actually fell asleep in my arms.  I held him for 30 minutes while everyone played and then decided it was time to get going.   We changed into dry clothes and then headed to DQ for lunch.   After that we got back in the car for the long ride home.  The ride home was very uneventful.  The kids couldn’t have been better!  No whining or complaining or crying!   Kyle was the only one awake in the back for quite some time, and he made it until we were about 10 minutes from home and then conked out.

Once home we got unpacked and laundry started then went out and played softball out in the yard with the girls.   Jake came out about 45 minutes later and wanted to try his hand at T ball – that was the biggest laugh I have got for a while, as he would scream “WHACK IT!” and hit the ball off the tee with all his might, and a little jump-spin for good measure.

Overall it was a great trip and I am glad we have made our maiden voyage with the boys and know that staying in a hotel room with them won’t be completely miserable!

PS – 4 weeks later, Jake still asks me to check him on regular basis to see if he is big enough for the red slide yet… he will ask – drink a glass of milk and ask for me to check him again 2 minutes later so that we can see if that milk helped him get big enough for the RED slide at the “Pool Park.”  (42 inches is his goal!)


One of our “summer bucket list” items this year was to camp 1 time a month – May – October.  So far we have made good on the promise, with July looking promising too (reservations are already made!).

Our first trip out in May was to Wolf Creek just our family of 6.   We originally planned to go with other families to Ramsey, but at the last minute they all had to back out and the forecast was for rain the entire weekend…. so we changed our mind to Wolf Creek and got a concrete site next to the park.   The location as excellent, as Jake and Kyle could go play at the park and we could stay at camp and see them the entire time.   Because we were on concrete, we could walk out of the camper barefoot, and sit around without worrying about mud, bugs, etc.  I actually kind of liked that part a lot, although it didn’t feel like “real camping.”     We realized that the girls prefer to be with other families after the 60th time we heard “I’m bored.”   We ended up getting decent weather that weekend and it was a good first trip out for the year.

This past weekend we went to Charley Brown Park in Flora.   It was the first time we had ever been there.   The Lawrence family got a new camper, so they were ready to go along so they could try it out.   Again the forecast was calling for a good chance of rain and storms the entire weekend, but again we lucked out!   We only got a little rain and it was in the evening and through the night (oh and when were cleaning out the camper at home… )  The campground is in the city park, so the playground was great compared to the state park campgrounds.   It also had a pool and a train that you could ride on.  The kids really enjoyed it.   Jill and I decided it felt like we were camping in some ones yard, as it didn’t have the “campground” feel to it.   The kids had a great time and LOVED having an entire weekend to play with their cousins.   Baby Weston couldn’t have been better and besides Wyatt’s kitten that was along, the kids couldn’t have been better.  Katie did have her first major bike wreck and road rash, but thankfully she was over it pretty quickly.   We have had a good start to our 2015 camping season and I hope that it continues!!  Stay tuned for more!!!  :-)

Camping 2015 Lawrence and Thoele Familes

Camping 2015 Lawrence and Thoele Familes

I really thought I was getting a good picture of our group with my camera and self timer, the top picture was me testing the timer and making sure that it was pointed in the right direction before Jill and I jumped in….. apparently I didn’t have it right, as I had to use both pictures to get all of us in the group!!

Part of the same group from a  2009 camping trip.... (Lawrences had a neighbor with them that year)  Katie and I were missing from the photo.

Part of the same group from a 2009 camping trip…. (Lawrences had a neighbor with them that year) Katie and I were missing from the photo.

More random pictures of the weekend – apparently Jason is a baby whisperer!  ;-)

The post where I just ramble!

Spring is more than half over and summer is just around the corner, unbelievable!     The kids just keep growing and changing and Jason and I just keep chasing our tails in circles, or so it seems!

I am so very glad for the end of the school year.  Katie and homework make for some LONG evenings on occasion.  85% of the time she does her homework with little to no coaxing, but that 15% of the time that she decides she doesn’t want to do it – YIKES!    Abby is glad to get a later bedtime (first summer ever we have allowed her to stay up late on a regular basis, even during the week, with the agreement she can’t be a grouch in the mornings when it is time to get up!) and to not be forced to read every night.   Jake and Kyle are happy to have their sisters at daycare and to get to have “camp outs” in their room some nights when the girls sleep on their floor.

So far this spring we have already been able to go camping 1 time (with more trips planned!!), have hit the park several times, been to several of Abby’s softball games, and spent lots of time outside in the yard.   Jason and I are getting little tastes of “big kids” here and there when Kyle gets the urge to go and play with his siblings and not beg us to go with him everywhere.  When that happens, it is a moment to be celebrated (like by sitting down in the lawn chair and having a drink!)  :-)

Kyle started speech back in March and is doing well.  He picks up new sounds every day.   He is at the point where he knows exactly what he wants, but doesn’t know how to communicate it to us and so there are lots of tantrums and fits until we figure out what he wants.   It leads to some frustrating moments for him and us.   I will be so glad when he has his speech mastered and can tell us outright what he wants.   He is all boy, every time we see a tractor, car, truck, van, anything with a steering wheel, he wants to be in it “driving.”    He runs everywhere he goes and falls down a lot, his legs are just bruises on top of bruises from all the wipe outs.  He could care less though; he just hops up and keeps going.  He gives me a heart attack each time we go to the park because he goes to the top deck of the playground equipment and runs straight for the openings that are for the big kids to use to climb up them…. I really think one of this days he may just jump, just to see what happens!  :-/may2015

Kyle is still is a picky eater and prefers lots of fresh fruits and very little else, with the exception of breakfast food, that he loves!  We moved him out of his own room and in with Jacob about a month ago.  We moved the crib in, so he is still caged.   It takes him quite a while to settle down and go to sleep, but I think Jake likes having him in there.    I have converted his old room into the office/homework room, and I think I am really going to like that.

Jake still is having trouble sleeping in his own bed all night.  He wants me or Jason either in the room or to be in our bed.   I waffle between feeling like he HAS to stay in his bed and the fact that he is only little once and if he wants to sleep with us once in a while, as long as he isn’t still doing it in high school, what’s it going to hurt?   He talks NON stop, he has an opinion on everything and most of what he says cracks us up on a daily basis.   This weekend we were eating lunch and he always wants his food cooled by me blowing on it.  I said that my food was too hot too and he said “Mom, let dad poo on your food! That will help!”   Of course Daddy and the girls got a HUGE kick out of that and it was repeated at least 50 times during the meal! :-) He and Kyle have been attending Abby’s softball games so far this year.  The games are 1 ½ hours long, but the boys usually don’t stay much more than an hour.   We bring  the ipods along and let them play those, it  keeps Jake occupied and quiet,  but doesn’t work for Kyle.  So to keep Kyle in his seat I pack LOTS of food and just keep feeding him, it usually works for about 25 minutes before he is up and running and on the lookout for trouble.

Back in April we celebrated the 1 year anniversary of Dad’s death.  The day was harder than I thought it would be, but I made it through.  I got several texts and emails from good friends and even had beautiful flowers delivered to me at work by a very thoughtful friend.   I miss dad like crazy,  I think about him daily and sometimes out of the blue the missing him hits me like a ton of bricks, but I know he is pain free and in a better place now, so that gives me comfort.   The girls and I planted some trees and shrubs this past week, I told them the story of how I would try to help Dad plant things when I was younger, always wanting to use the shovel (like they were begging too) and he would let me try, but I was never strong enough to dig a very deep hole.  I explained that whatever dad planted grew, he had a wonderful green thumb, so we sent a little request up to him while I was planting, that he helped my plants to grow and not die…… we will see if it helps!  :-)

We have a busy weekend coming up with 3 different places to be over the course of the weekend and then a week of work and then family vacation!  First time we are taking all 6 of us off on vacation and staying in a hotel room!!   I am curious to see how this all goes down!


I took the boys for what feels like their annual hair cuts, although in reality, it is more like their quarterly haircut.  I don’t take them often because Kyle HATES having his hair cut.  He literally screams and wiggles through the entire process.  It is exhausting for me and my niece Megan who is doing the cutting.    I am hopeful that a year from now Kyle will sit as well as Jake does now, time will tell.  I am amazed at how different the boys always look post hair cut.   Tonight I took before and after pictures:

Hair Cuts

(I have no idea what happened to Kyle’s nose between the before and after picture.  And as you can tell, they are both still working on a “real” smile for picture purposes.)

Jason and I were sitting here this evening looking at this picture and talking about how different they look with their short hair and discussing why so many people question if they are twins.  To us, they look nothing alike.  But it seems like every time we have them out together we get asked at least 1 time, are they twins?  Maybe it is because they are pretty close in height or maybe because I have a slight obsession with dressing them alike…… :-)

In other brother news…. Jake has requested that Kyle’s bed be moved into his room, so he doesn’t have to sleep alone (with the gorillas… which he says only show up in the middle of the night) anymore.   I told him we could possibly try it and see how it goes, but if Kyle has a hard time sleeping in his room, we were going to move him back to his bedroom.  So cross your fingers for us, that it works out!!!