Subscribe: Jen and Derrick: Just Life
Preview: Jen and Derrick: Just Life

Team Teal

"Yes. Wait a minute... no." Our life in a nutshell.

Updated: 2017-03-25T22:56:54.189-04:00



The boys enjoyed a wonderful performance of Shrek the Musical today, starring their babysitter, Andrea, as Peter Pan. They were talking about Donkey, Pinocchio, and Prince Farquaad all night!


Happy Anniversary to us!

We celebrated 12 years at our favorite anniversary spot: The Melting Pot.


Graham has been asking to go to the Detroit Institute of Arts for quite a while, so on Saturday, he and Jen headed down for the afternoon. He was so excited to see and sketch the artwork. The first stop was, of course, the Greek and Roman exhibit. Although it is small, Graham loved it. He ended up sketching all 5 helmets he saw.  He also really liked this antelope figure in the African exhibit. The workshop this week was on furniture making. He asked some great questions of the professionals on hand and even got to try his hand at some off the techniques. We also saw the contemporary exhibit space, and Graham was excited to see several of the artists who have inspired his art teacher's projects at school. This is one piece he particularly liked. [...]


A cute picture of Graham with his buddies at the school VERY COLD March weather

And here's Russell playing his drum at school during their music study. They are going to spend an hour with the high school band in a week, and he can't wait!


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Turn your volume up before you play this one, and listen to Snooch. 
Who needs a trainer when you've got a Snooch?

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We have been horribly delinquent about posting pictures of Russ from school, so here are some great shots from January and February. Russell's class made an ENORMOUS paper chain to decorate their room for their Spanish teacher's baby shower. It then doubled as nice Valentine's Day decor. The class is just wrapping up a study of airplanes. Here is their final product at the end of the study. The kids also drew and labeled their own pictures of planes and learned all about tickets, luggage, the cockpit, and more.  Valentine's Day with friends If we've never mentioned that Russ's teacher is also a professional photographer, this should speak for itself. These little cars just never get old. They are technically for the toddlers, but the preschoolers seem to spend most of the time using them. [...]


60 degrees in February? Yes, please!


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Valentine's Day at Doggy Day Care


Percy is spending a couple of days a week at doggy daycare (Shangrila, to be precise), and they took his photo on his first day. He is doing really well playing with the other dogs, and we can see him all day on a webcam. It's highly addictive. If you want to check it out, we can give you the link!

Tonight was Graham's 2nd grade concert. The theme was sleepy time, and they sang a great collection of lullabies and sleep-related songs. Watch for a video of one song sometime this weekend.


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Working dog!


How is this kid 5 already?! Russel had a GREAT birthday, deemed "my best day ever" several times. He got to snuggle with his brother before school (a HUGE win in his eyes); play with friends all day; have Daddy read to the class and bring a special snack; eat breakfast for dinner (plus bumpy cake); enjoy Skype calls with lots of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins; and open presents. He just glowed all day long! We can't believe this little bundle of energy is five years old!


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Welcome Percival Albus Teal (Percy for short) Other nicknames: Idiot Dog Brain and Goober Age: About 1 year Breed: Corgi-Australian Shepherd-probablysomethingelse mix  Adopted from: Coldwater, Michigan He is super silly, very affectionate, and 150% puppy. He is working on his manners, but he's very smart, so training is coming along in baby steps. Exhausting him seems to help, but exhausting him takes some serious work. Derrick has even taken to running with him a few evenings a week, and for those who know Derrick, you'll remember that his general policy about running is that one should only do so if being chased. Keeping his brain working also does wonders, so lots of learning obedience, tricks, and puzzles. Percy is great with the kids, save for his mouthing, which we are working on, and when he gets very excited about playing with his toys (at which point he barks loudly). Graham and Russell are learning a lot about dog behavior modification! Percy also really loves his toys. His Kong is one of his favorites, along with anything made of strong enough material to gnaw on. He will actually throw toys TO HIMSELF if no one will play with him.  Graham hid a few treats inside his Kong, and Percy enjoyed trying to get them out. His favorite, though, is frozen peanut butter! And for those wondering about Mr. Snooch.... he's coming along nicely. He has now successfully walked right across the dog's path several times without being chased, and generally speaking, he's being very brave. We haven't seen much of his bushy tail, and he has only hissed at Percy once (when Percy dared to try to jump up on our bed one morning). We think he is realizing that moving slowly is better than running. He likes to look down on Percy imperiously from his cat perch, and he is slowly getting used to snuggling when he is on one couch and Percy is on the other. And of course, since Percy is crated at night, Snooch still curls up with Derrick in bed. Percy seems to just want to play, but we're pretty sure his idea of play and Snooch's idea of play aren't exactly the same just yet. Here's Percy with his new puzzle toy, which makes him work for his kibble! allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> [...]


On Tuesday, we had a perfectly-timed ice storm that caused all the area schools to close. Additionally, it also closed Jamie's daycare, so guess who got to spend the day with Charlotte??? 

She is SO GOOD, and Graham and Russell had a blast hanging out with her. We brought out a few of our saved baby toys and enjoyed a day of fun together. 

Here she is after her eating her delicious fruit.

The weather warmed up considerably over the course of the day, so we also took a nice walk!


Instead of gifts for all the nieces and nephews this year, we decided to get hotel rooms for one night of fun together. Our family, Stef and Matt's family, and Jamie and Steve's family met up in East Lansing on Saturday. Of course the first stop was the pool. Little Charlotte was all tuckered out from swimming, but she was ready to go again at dinner time! The hotel had a great lounge area where we could all eat dinner in one place. We had delicious Chinese food from a place Jamie and Steve used to go when they were living there. The kids then all enjoyed a movie together,  complete with a RIDICULOUS array of snacks for all the kids. Meanwhile, the grownups played a board game (sort of...we made it through a couple of turns and ended up mostly talking all night). We had a blast and definitely plan to do it again! [...]


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Belated Christmas This year, our annual Christmas gathering with Derrick's family had to wait all the way until January 7th. But we had tons of fun all the same! Russell got a new ukulele, and Graham got the sequel to the Percy Jackson book series. Auntie Bubbles (Stef) also brought little monster Lego sets for the boys to build together. It was a great day and a great kick-off to 2017! [...]


From January 2-3, we took a surprise overnight trip for Russell's early birthday celebration in lieu of a party this year. Although it has confused him a bit, it was a much better time to go than in early February for a whole host of reasons. We took him (and Graham) to Great Wolf Lodge, the same water park hotel where Graham went last year with Oliver for his birthday. Russell was SO EXCITED and had a really wonderful time. He just kept grinning and hopping up and down. Some of the following pictures are from the Great Wolf site, as it's the kind of place where you don't really carry things around much, especially not in the water park! This is the lobby, all decked out with "lodge" decor.  At check-in, Russ was given special birthday wolf ears, which he slept in and wore until we got home today. It was cute, especially as the employees are good about wishing a happy birthday to kids who are wearing their birthday ears. We got a room that had a special kid cabin suite. Russell was especially excited to sleep on the top bunk. He also shared that his second favorite part of the trip was getting to eat dinner on his bunk while watching tv.  This is a picture of the GIANT bucket that tips water every time it fills up. Allegedly, it holds 1000 gallons of water. Graham and Russell rushed right over to stand underneath it whenever they were close enough when the bell started to clang. We were really excited that Russell was also excited to go on all the water slides. The giant yellow one in the picture below was "awesome" as far as he was concerned. He went down in a double inner tube with Jen. The red water slide below was another favorite. This one he could go down on his own. He really liked all the slides that were pitch black all the way down! Here are the boys enjoying an ice cream before the bedtime show in the lobby. It's super fun that everyone pretty much wanders around in their pajamas all evening. You can also see here the two wands the boys had. Graham got his when he went in April, and it's nice that it still works when you go back. Russ got to choose a wand for himself, and they both enjoyed a game of Magiquest. They choose to go on quests and walk around finding clues hidden in the hotel (in paintings, podiums, etc.) to collect runes. It was definitely less stressful this time around, since Graham and Jen had learned the ropes in April, and Russell thought it was really fun. It was his favorite part of the trip.  Though he will get to take some cupcakes in for his classmates on his actual birthday, this was his "party," and he says he is completely okay with the trade-off! We have a feeling we may be headed back for another trip in April (parents need that long to recoup!). [...]


Happy 2017!

As we mentioned in our Christmas post, we have yet more Legos added to our collection. On New Year's Eve, Graham designed this add-on platform for our Lego table (including desired measurements), and he, Jen, and Russell went to Home Depot, bought the necessary supplies, and built it together. The boys' favorite parts were getting to use the drill and spray painting! Now there's more room for all of their Lego creations.

Graham has also now finished his first sewing project: this cute, stuffed dog.


Merry Christmas! This was actually Christmas Eve dinner, before church. Even though we only get out all the fancy tableware a few times a year, we do enjoy it. This year, the boys got sparkling grape juice in our nice goblets, and they felt very grown-up indeed.  And what would Christmas be without Christmas crackers?! Christmas morning was just as chaotic and fun as always. You will notice that Russell's mouth is distinctly blue from his breakfast of candy canes. He was very excited about his science kit, which you'll see pictures of him digging in to further down in this post. He has also been enjoying a set of classic fairytales. Here's Graham investigating his box of magic tricks. And of course there were Legos for both boys. It's so sad that the don't have very many Legos (ha!). Graham also got a beginner's sewing kit, and he is about half-way through making a stuffed-animal dog. There are two other stuffed animals patterns, a pouch, and a book cover left to make. Russ is very proud of his newest Lego sets, which he has put together with only parental double-checking, following the instruction book on his own, a HUGE step in his foray into Lego building. We did also all go outside for a bit on Christmas Day. There was still snow, but it had warmed up considerably, which made it both pleasant and fun for building a snowman.  Those who know of our tradition of not getting out of our pajamas on Christmas Day, fear not; we are wearing pajamas under our snow pants and coats! Christmas dinner in pajamas, a favorite tradition. You may notice another guest at the table in this particular photo. On Boxing Day (Dec 26), we headed down to Pittsburgh to see some of Jen's family. First, we got to hang out with youngest cousin Avery (and her parents). We couldn't believe how much she's grown just since August.  Graham kept trying to read her books, but she is at the adorable stage of flipping pages mid-sentence and skipping whole chunks to get to the end. Graham made it through about one book in order, in its entirety, but he enjoyed all the attempts just the same. While the Snyders were there with us, Pops took out his childhood game, Taxi. It's a map of London, and you get cards that show you your passenger, where you have to get them, and how much they will pay you. Of course there are all kinds of obstacles along the way. The kids really enjoyed it! Graham did also play several games of L'Attaque with various people; we just didn't catch any of it on camera this time. Pops remains the reigning champ, but Graham picked up some new strategy. Pops also got out his old harbor, which Russ has not seen before and which Graham hasn't seen since he was quite little. This is a metal harbor set compete with cruise-liners, tug boats, war ships, and more. The kids enjoyed playing with it, though their bickering over the biggest battle ships led to a somewhat early end to the activity.  The Snyders and Hoenks overlapped for just an hour or two on Tuesday night, but we did manage to snag this photo of Avery and Lauren with Dave and Eric. Here's a cute one of Lauren demolishing a chocolate ice-cream cone after dinner. All the kids had one, but their faces weren't quite as precious as Lauren's. On Wednesday, we headed to North Park to enjoy some beautiful sunshine and run off some [...]


Guess who just turned 40? Both of the dads in this picture! We went down to Detroit's Hard Rock Cafe for dinner with Derrick's friend John and his family before the two guys headed out to a Red Wings game. We haven't all been together since our wedding!