Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from our Little Turkey


I'm thankful for Mercer's daycare.  It's a sacrifice we make to allow for our careers and to serve as the catalyst for Mercer's love of learning.  He's talking, he starting to say his letters, numbers and colors, he's obsessed with reading and he's learning that, because there are other kids in his class, the world doesn't revolve around him (a lesson that his Mother should also learn...someday).

But what we really love about daycare...espescially at holidays, are the lessons and art that focus on them.  Fall has brought us lots of art, themed with pumpkins and tractors.  November has focused on Thanksgiving.  His teachers at daycare taught him to "gobble" like a turkey (and of course, we reinforce this at home).  And in the past week we received this beautiful fall tree and this Thanksgiving card - all made by him.
Note:  He did the art - the letters were done by his teachers.  We're raising a Picasso, not an Einstein.  :)

Sometimes, in a year filled with things that may not have worked out in your favor, you have to give thanks for the little things.  In addition to being thankful for Mercer's school, my heart just swells with thanks for the smiles that I get daily from my little guy and big guy.  It's those smiles that makes life worth living.

Happy Thanksgiving EVERYONE!  Love - JenStar and her SeidmEn

Mercer's felt pilgrim hat and his Turkey Card!
Fall Foliage as interpreted by M. Benjamin

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I’m loving my little parrot.  Yes, PARROT.  He enjoys saying everything we say.
And while I know many of you are cringing at this because you  know that I don’t have the cleanest mouth….
I can honestly say that he hasn’t entertained us with his potty language just yet (insert giant sigh of relief).

98% of our conversations go like this.  He actually wakes up asking questions.  Example…
Mercer:  What dat?  (Points to chair)
Jen/Mark:  Chair
Mercer:  (smiling) chair…..

Sometimes he stumps us with his questions as neither of us (he, nor, I) quite know what he’s asking for...
Mercer:  What dat? (Points to air)
Jen/Mark:  Huh?
Mercer:  huh?

It’s funnier to watch if he can’t say the word.  This prompts him to repeat sounds (under his breath) that HE thinks sound like the word we said. 
Mercer:  What dat?  (Points to vacuum)
Jen/Mark:  Vacuum
Mercer (quietly):  oooom……. (smiles)

Similar conversations take place when he does something and then we explain it to him, which he then repeats.  Example:
(Mercer farts)
(Jen Laughs)
Jen:  Mercer!  You tooted!
Mercer:  TOOT?
Jen:  Yea…you tooted out your butt.
Mercer:  (Pointing to his butt)  TOOT?
(Jen continues to laugh while in the back of her mind noting that she’s going to have to teach him to excuse himself)

Also new to his vocabulary are “NO!” and “MINE!”. 
Sometimes he uses them together…like when the dogs have him backed into a corner in an attempt to steal his mini muffin
Mercer:  (grasping mini muffin to his chest, while using the other hand to point his finger at the dogs) NO….MINE!

And now some adorable photos of the Parrot.

Dear Santa Fairy Godmother...THANK YOU FOR MY BIKE!

Helping Daddy with his Jeep

Organizing the pantry

Climbed up there by himself

Morning Cuddles

Helping Daddy assemble his Bike

The finished product

Liking the box just as much as the bike...oh...a TUNNEL

Everyone's Park

There’s a park about 20 minutes from our house that is relatively new. 

It was constructed to enable play for all kids…those with disabilities and those without.
I love this concept...nurturing our kids to look past each other’s handicaps and just see that on the most basic level, we are all just human.  Kids are Kids.

The equipment is brand-new and super cool.  There are 3 sets of swings and massive jungle gyms with different themes.  There are outdoor percussion instruments, which I will admit, I enjoyed more than Mercer.  (Really, how often do you get to play an xylophone?).

What I realized in watching everyone is that the park isn't only designed for kids of all's designed for adults of all kinds.  We saw a man in a wheelchair who didn’t have legs.  And because of the way this park was constructed, with wide paths and sturdy rubber “flooring", it  made it easier for him to enjoy pushing his son on the swings.  They had these giant smiles on their faces as he pushed him higher and higher.  It made my heart swell so much and I got all teary watching them.

Mercer was a little small for a lot of the equipment.  He loves the swings and the roller slide.  But he mostly enjoyed having the freedom to run and having Mom chase after him.  This is normally pretty easy…except when I realized he could run under things way shorter than I can.  During one of the chases, I was about chasing him on my knees as he ducked under a low jungle gym (laughing all the way).

On our way out…we met up with our Wheelchair friend and Mercer was admiring his wheels.  And when I mentioned this to him, he just smiled and said, “All the kids love them” and wheeled off.

What a sweet afternoon - pics below.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Anything can happen on Halloween

...a kid can turn into a monkey.

Halloween Highlights and Low-lights.  Because that's how life is with a toddler, right?  A day filled with turbulent emotions.  The most giant of smiles and the loudest of giggles, followed by a full-on temper tantrum thought to be brought on by a green bean on his dinner plate, of which he ate 100 of yesterday.

I've been told that this lasts through puberty.  JOY.

But I digress, Halloween.

  • Pizza Party at School. This is where we were informed, the kid housed some pizza.  Note - hearing him say the word "pizza" just melts the Jersey part of my heart.
  • Being a monkey.  He knew what he was the minute he put on this costume, without even looking in the mirror (weird).  He ripped through the house making his crazy monkey noises and cracking us both up.
  • Wagon ride through the neighborhood.  The king was pulled in his chariot by his favorite donkey (his Mom).
  • Running up driveways.  I haven't really figured out what it is about driveways that he loves so much, but he gets crazy excited by running up them.
  • Running into people's homes.  I think with his ability to sweet talk his way into hugs from the neighbors....he's a shoe in for delivering the Publisher's Clearing House prizes (or maybe a talk show host)!
  • Picking out the candy from the candy bowl.  He tried to take more than one.  Mom tried to teach him manners (except when Skittles or Reeses are involved).

  • Sir Monkey Pants would not really smile for the camera the entire night.  While he didn't look like he was having a terrible time, he's in the phase where he hates stopping to do ANYTHING, including paying attention to the one million, "Smile!" or "Say Cheese" requests that come from his mother.
  • Rude pre-teens.  Mercer was toddling his way to the candy bowl and 2 rude and oblivious pre-teens stormed up the porch and knocked him down.  It's like they never saw him.  He's a giant monkey with a glow bracelet on his can you NOT see him?  No "excuse me-s" or "sorry-s" were said.  I hope the Acne Fairy catches up to them.  Nerds.

In other Cool Mom News - my friend and co-SuperMom, Bonnie, made her kids into Sushi for Halloween (sounds macabre...but it's not).  This landed them in the front row of Live with Regis & Kelly...Link to the tape is below.  You can see to two pieces of (delicious) sushi in the front row as soon as the hosts walk in.  Bonnie MADE these costumes...she is awesomely talented and I felt she deserved a shout out!

 Bonnie's Sushi Snacks

Enjoy the pictures...some are from before Halloween when we went to the Pumpkin Patch.

The Great Pumpkin

Animal Magnetism


With Daddy on an antique John Deere

His pumpkin...that was later snatched off our porch

Mermie the Monkey

Monekeys loves Na-na's.

Daddy & his Monkey

the King of the Jungle in his Chariot


Loving being able to CHOOSE what he gets....(he chose a Dum Dum)

Can you spot the monkey on the lose in our yard?

Saturday, October 29, 2011


My grandfather, Mercer's great-grandfather passed away this week.  Mark held down the home front and I flew back to NJ to be with family.

Death is never easy, but in the state that Grandpop was in, peace was welcome.

I was asked by my Dad to write and then deliver my Grandfather's eulogy and below is what I came up with.

Enjoy.  RIP Grandpop.  Obituary can be read here:  Grandpop's Obituary
4 Generations - July 2010

Great Grandparents - July 2010

Eulogy - Michael Lenhardt - Given 10.29.11 @ St. Gregory's Church


We see those 4 letters on tee-shirts and bumper stickers. 
It’s an acronym that has permeated our culture and especially my generation.


Each individual interprets that phrase a little differently.  But overall it exists to remind us to live a little closer to how Jesus would have…to live the Golden rule.

And today, what I’d like you to do…is to take a little liberty with this phrase.

Because we could sit in this chapel and cry buckets over the soul that was taken from us.

We could shake our fists at God in anger for calling him home.

But, loud and clear, in my head, I can hear Grandpop saying, “Well…what good is that going to do you?”

So, I offer you this…let’s honor him by living our lives using his as an example….all of it – the good the bad and the ugly.   Let’s think…WWMD…What would Mike do?

In case you need some examples of what, in fact, Mike would do…I am here to give you…
  • Mike would admit that marriage is hard…but it’s worth it.  So, all the petty squabbles that we think are dealbreakers …aren’t.   To have your wife stand beside you and nurse you through your worst…well, that is love, that is commitment and that is what marriage is about.
  • Mike would tell you to have a dog.  And to treat that dog like it’s your baby.  Spoil it, love on it, dote on it.  Treat it like you would any two-legged member of the family and in some cases even better than that.
  • Mike would tell you to have kids and enjoy them.  He would encourage you to be a “present” parent; to help with homework, to lead cub scouts, to coach baseball, to sit in the audience and the stands and cheer your kids on – to be their biggest fan.  And even when they’re well out of little league, continue cheering them on in the choices that they make in their lives.
  • Mike would tell you that from time to time  yelling is necessary.  Whether it’s directed at a softball umpire, the television, your kids or your beloved dog…I know he’d say that sometimes you have to raise your voice to get your point across.  And then he’d follow that up by telling you not to take it personally.
  • Mike would tell you to never stop learning.  And while you should respect the education that is afforded to you in the hallowed halls of your alma mater, he would add that up by saying that the world continues to teach you and you’d be a fool not to stop once in a while and soak it all in.
  • Mike would tell you to indulge a little. Eat cereal at night, make your favorite Superbowl foods and feed your sweet tooth with  your giant Chocolate Easter Bunny, your marshmallows covered in coconut and of course, your Turtles.
  • Mike would tell you to be pragmatic. Save More, Spend less, Fix instead of buying new and sometimes be downright frugal.  Because eventually, you’ll have a golfing hobby and grandkids to spend your money on.

In closing, I will tell you one last thing that Mike would do that all of us can do right now… Smile.  You know, in the end, when it was difficult to communicate, his big smile said it all.  It said hello and goodbye, it said please and thank you, it said that he was happy to see you, that he was proud of you and that he loved you. 

So, as you fondly remember how he touched your life, hold you head high and smile.  And feel that Granpop is smiling too as he looks down on us from the heavens as we go about our lives thinking WWMD.