Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hypothetical Reader Questions

Judging from the number of comments my blog gets, you wouldn't guess I have a lot of readers. Thankfully, Sitemeter validates my efforts. For fun, lets just say I have tons of readers, and perhaps a few have questions, maybe like this:
Janine, since your adorable little boy now sleeps 12 hours at night, still takes two naps, is a really fast eater, and has a father who attempts to fulfill his one-diaper-change-a-day obligations, what do you do with all your free time? Especially since you work from home, which means you don't really work that much at all.
- Your Biggest Fan
Hi! Thanks! I really don't have that much free time, mainly because I do work from home, but I'm glad you asked anyway, because recently I started on a new, challenging project... my backyard!
Jon and I love our little beach house and we like to dream about what we'd do if it was ours - like paint, hardwood floors, drapes, and landscaping. But since we don't own it, and we won't be living here after next summer, we really have no desire to dump any more money into it than we have to. Compared to most of our neighbors, our "land space" (I can't really say "yard") is quite big. But it's also an overgrown mess! It would be so fun to plant grass, create some flower beds and maybe even plant a small garden. But we just haven't done it. Since I knew we were having friends in this summer, and we were planning to have a campfire night with S'mores, I decided it would be a good time to clear out the yard a bit.
So I started pulling weeds and raking leaves during Jack's naps and after he went to bed at night. It was actually a lot more enjoyable than I imagined. It was nice to spend some time outside, seeing the impact hard work could have on our little jungle. And it actually wasn't as difficult as it looked. Since many of those plants were vines, pulling up a weed at one end of the yard usually resulted in simultaneously clearing weeds from the other end. I enjoyed the change of scene so much that I decided to keep working on the project long after we had a our campfire fun.
So this is what our back space looked like before I got to work.


And this is what I was able to do so far.
We had a great night sitting around the campfire visiting with friends and making tasty S'Mores.


Don't worry, I didn't have to do all this work alone. My big helper took care of a few loads in his Gator.
Now just in case you're wondering where my hubby is during all this mess, well he was inside shampooing the carpets. It was a little of a role reversal this particular week. :)
Now that we have some manageable turf, I'm hoping to spend some more time outside with Jack. After only one short playtime in the backyard, he already managed to get dirt in his ears, nose and mouth. Having fun keeps Mommy on her toes!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A constant state of disarray

At least, that's how I feel about Jack's room right now. It's strange, when I used to think of a baby nursery I always thought of a cute, bright, airy, neat, sweet child-friendly space. But in real life Jack's room is generally dark as a cave (he sleeps better that way), a little stinky (depending on what just went into the diaper pail), and pretty messy. But not a dirty kind of mess, more like a clothes everywhere kind of mess. It's just hard to keep up with the wardrobe demands of a child who can't stay in one size for longer than 2 months. I feel like as soon as I get his drawers and closet organized with one size, he's already moving on to the next size. So the poor kid has a room full of boxes. Boxes of clothes that are currently too big but won't be for long, boxes of clothes that fit but aren't the right season, and boxes of clothes that he just grew out of but haven't made their way to the attic (sadly some of these he never got a chance to wear!),

Sidenote: Can you tell the ceiling fan is on in this picture? :)

I finally got busy and re-organized every little piece of clothing down to the newborn size socks and cap he wore home from the hospital. I sorted everything by size and style, and lined them up in plastic bins. I started to label them "Jack's Clothes" and then changed my mind. Instead I wrote "Baby Boy size ..." And I have to say, I got a little sentimental. It seems like years since Jack wore some of those outfits, not 9 months. I began to worry that I might never have to open these boxes again.

So when Jon came home from work I said, "Honey, we have to have another boy." He responds, "Well I'd love to have another boy." "No," I said, "You don't get it. Even if we have 3 girls in a row, I need to have another boy." He snaughed (that's a snort and laugh) and walked out of the room. So there you have it folks, I am counting on not letting my organizational skills go to waste. Those "Baby Boy" boxes will be put to good use again, someday.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

No news is ... boring

Jack's been keeping us entertained these past few weeks with some of his new tricks. It's never a dull moment with a growing 9 month old!
Jack loves learning how to stand, especially when it involves hanging on the edge of his new toy box. In fact, he gets pretty angry when Mom makes him take a seat. Currently we're working on keeping our feet flat while practicing standing, and not trying to grab something with both hands when thse hands are the only thing keeping you up!
The back of the couch is also a good chance to practice vertical balance.

Ever since he was a little tyke Jack has loved window time. But now he's starting to get a will of his own. If I'm holding him while sitting on the couch he usually tries to climb over my shoulder until he can get a better view of the outside world. We like to watch the cars and doggies go by. Oh, and I do clean my windows, but they're those silly double-paned ones that get moisture stuck in the middle and always look dirty.

I think Jack may have outgrown the Jumpster, or maybe our doorframes are shorter than average, but at this point he's not able to do much jumping. So instead he uses it for "grooving" and structural support while clearing out Mom's closet. At first, he'd start dancing with the Swiffer.


Then he found out he could reach Mom's kitchen utensils.
Everytime I would hide the last thing he got out, he'd find something new.

"Hey Mom, is this for me?"


A few days later he realized he could yank out all the paper bags and make cool sounds by jumping on them.

After he's pulled everything within reach out of the closet, it's time to move on to the next distraction - the ceiling fan. On more than one occasion Jack has nearly fallen out of my arms while trying to stare down the rotating blades. He can't get enough of it.


And our newest toy - the bike seat! We've been practicing riding on the back of Daddy's bike patiently and QUIETLY. Jack's usually good for he first 20 minutes, and then he starts serenading us on our ride. And it's usually not a happy song. It might be because the view from back there isn't so great. I'm not sure why the manufacturers designed the sitter to be right at eye level with the driver's rear. We'll keep working on our biker attitude before our big camping trip and even longer bike rides with Poppa.


And finally, Jack has been cracking us up lately with his latest gig - the ghetto bop. Even the church nursery ladies commented on how he "dances" to the music. Currently he's got two signature moves - the head shake and the torso bounce. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get a good video of this yet, since he always stops when I get the camera out. But really, it's hilarious watching Bruiser get his groove on. You can kind of get an idea from the first few seconds of this video:


video

Any Veggie Tales fans out there want to name that tune? It's Jack's favorite VT movie, and I'm sure it's not because we only have two and the other one is about a princess...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Narcistic much?

Jack is completely entertained by his new best friend - himself! He's discovered the mirror on the turtle's belly.

video

Now I know babies love mirrors, but I'm thinkin' it may be time to arrange some socialization opportunities. Playdate anyone?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

BFFs

This past weekend our friends Nate and Jenn came to visit, remember them from last year? Love these two!! So anyway, to add to an already fantastic clan, our friends from home Jayson and Beth also came down and stayed with yet even more friends from home Marc and Heather, who are currently living in the area while Marc attends Law School. This meant that Jack had a friend too!

We had an awesome time together! The men got to do lots of cool guy things like play volleyball, solve world problems, and watch the Tour de France. The ladies got in plenty of girl time chatting on the beach, making delicious food and entertaining the kiddos. And the newest BFFs, Jack and Trenton, learned a lot about sharing toys and eating sand.

Nate and Jenn celebrated their 6th anniversary while staying with us (according to them they spend so much time "just the two of us" that they don't mind celebrating the occasional anniversary with good friends). Six years and going strong, with no kids. :) Our mission last year was to convince them to join us in Parentland. It seemed to easy then, me with my cute, little 7-month pregnant baby bump. No swollen ankles in sight. Motivated by that amazing middle-of-the-pregnancy energy boost! Setting up an adorable nursery for our little man to enjoy. Well, if that didn't convince them then there's no way that a whiney, poopy, always-hungry-when-mom's-trying-to-enjoy-her-dinner, clingy, nap-fighting, don't-let-him-out-of-your-site-or-he'll-eat-sand 9-month old boy is going to do it. So for now, we're just going to enjoy our childless friends and the way they spoil their "faux-phews" Jack and Trenton. And should they choose to forego yet another year of baby-ness to spend a year in the Cayman Islands, well we'll support them in that too. Especially if they have a guest room, we'll totally support that. :) And someday they'll change their minds, and then I'll get to enjoy their babies while mine are, I don't know, going to HIGH SCHOOL!!

Bear with me here, lots of pictures to share ... it was hard choosing just a few favorites from among the 376 thar Jenn took!

The boys loved the water, and took turns cruising in the floating airplane. The best part about being at the bay is that the waves aren't so overpowering for the little guys.

Brawn and Brains were a riot! Jack would use his strength to yank a toy from Trenton, and Trenton would use his quick-thinking, fast moves to steal it back from Jack when he wasn't looking. In this picture Jack is playing with Trenton's shovel (a.k.a. giant spoon) and Trenton is scheming a way to get it back!
I think this picture is funny. The boys playing volleyball. It was especially crowded on the beach this weekend, which made for a nice crowd to volley around with. There was a tournament going on down the beach, so our boys played whoever was sitting out a round.
My big man and my little man, in coordinating swim suits. ;)
This guy is so entertaining. We'd say, "Trenton, show us your old man face!" and this is what he'd do.
Dinner out at Dockside. I ALWAYS order grilled salmon when we go out for seafood. But I knew we were having it later this week so I opted for the crab legs. I love crab meat but hate having to work for my food. Thankfully my big, strong hubby was there to help me crack (and eat) my crab legs.

Nate and Jenn, our childless, accounting friends who work extremely hard during tax season so they can take vacation time to spend with us! Or at least, that's what we tell ourselves...
Nate ordered crab legs too, suffice it to say, while the rest of the table was chatting over cleaned plates, the two of us were still trying to dig a sliver of meat out of our crab toes.

Our latest addition to the fun friendcation - Beth, Jayson and Trenton.
Jenn is the BEST fauxntie.

A great night out, even if it involved extra loud live music, slightly intoxicated middle-aged women all up in our babies' faces, and an old man who kissed Trenton.
"Fauxntie Jenn, stop tickling me! Ahhh, I can't take it!!"
On another note, anyone else have a child who magically gets 10x happier about 2 minutes before bedtime??
Lovin' up on her Fauxphews.
Enjoying our frozen hot chocolate, mmm soo good!

BFFs! Both boys are nearly "off the charts" for weight. :) Trenton is 4 months older than Jack, and just a little smaller ... and quicker.
What we like to call "The G-5 Summit." Our men tackling the nation's greatest problems over blueberry coffee.

One of my favorite pictures for two reasons: (1) Jack is cuddling with me! He never cuddles. But it was way past his bedtime. Which brings me to reason (2) proof that I can be flexible (ahem, Nate). Although I can be a tad of an uptight, regimented mom, I would just like the world to see that I occasionally allow my child to stay up past his scheduled bedtime. He did survive, even if he could barely keep his eyes open in church the next morning.


Those who know me best are well aware of my love for all things Central Pennsylvania. I miss my homeland, family, church, friends, mountains, cheap groceries, snowy winters, etc. with a passion. :( But one of the main reasons these things are all so special is because I can no longer have them on a daily basis. The other day I was trying to remember what I imagined our life would be like when Jon asked me to marry him. I knew we'd be living at the beach for a year or so, I knew I'd be moving 8 hours from home, and I guess I knew we'd probably be living oceanside someway or the other no matter where we ended up in the future (note: I was wrong about this one, apparently there are plenty of Coast Guard jobs that are not by the sea! Imagine that.) I think I was more concerned with wedding plans, homemaking and hot hubbies to give much thought to my future. It wasn't until month/years later that it occured to me, "Hey, I've left my home forever and I don't know if I'll ever be back!"
For the better part of our 3 years of married life, and despite my husbands stern reality checks, I always pictured that at some point down the road, more than likely post-military life, we'd be moving back to PA where our kids could spend the night at their grandparents, where we could have picnics with our friends, where we'd go to football games at our old high schools, and where we'd wake up every Sunday and go to the same church our parents took us to when we were just little tykes ourselves. And then one day I realized, it's not going to happen. It wasn't a slap in the face, it wasn't a stunning revelation, it was as if I had known it all along. And, for the first time ever, I am perfectly okay with that. I know that we're not all called to live in Central PA. I know that God has a reason for giving Jon the jobs He does, and for moving him into certain fields. I know that wherever we go, He's got a plan. And I know that as long as I'm within a reasonable driving distance from our favorite place in the world, I'll be pretty happy (so stop talking about moving out west Jon!!). So although our life will probably not look like I always imagined it would, it's still going to be good.

Now you're probably wondering where I'm going with all this and what on earth BFFs have to do with God's plan for our lives. Well, ALL THAT to say - we love our friends and we so appreciate when they take time out of their busy lives to come visit and spend even just the weekend with us. Who knew that the people who bless us the most, who share so many of the same values and beliefs as we do, and who challenge and inspire us to be better people, were the same kids that we used to get in trouble with for talking during Sunday School? So while we greatly miss our friends and family, we're so grateful when they choose to bring a little Pennsylvania to Virginia so that we can get the occasional taste of the "back home life." And that is why I don't mind having houseguests all summer long!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fun with the cousins!

I have 2 cousins. Both on my Dad's side. That's zero on my Mom's side. We grew up living over two hours apart and only seeing each other a few times a year. Plus they were both boys, and a few years older than me. So I don't really know what it's like to grow up in a big family, with oodles of kids clamoring around Grandma's house for the holidays. I wish I did. But I'm glad that Jack will get to have the experiences that I didn't. He's currently grandchild #7 in Jon's family, and although he's my parents first grandchild, we're expecting many more to follow over the next few years. It's going to be fun watching this band of kiddos grow up together!
This is the third summer that Jon's sister and brother-in-law and their 4 boys have come to visit for a week or so. It is also the last year they'll get to spend their summer vacation with us at the beach so I'm glad Jack got to be a part of it. He was pretty happy about it too. He was so in awe of his bigger buddies, he couldn't stop smiling the whole week!
Besides working on his tan, going on his first hike, wrestling with the boys, and showing off his Jumpster moves, Jack also got accidentally "dropped" into the deck door and managed to convince one of the twins to give him a taste of Goldfish crackers. He's a smooth one!

I know I have like 50 pictures of Jack on the beach doing this same pose, but it's just too cute not to keep capturing!

We all know how much I like to put hats on my son, at least I'm over the hoodie stage ...

This was the cousins' favorite game - lay under Jack in the Jumpster and see if he'll jump on your face.

Watching cartoons with the big guys ...

Ice cream night a.k.a. Uncle Jonny and Aunt Janine keeping the kiddos entertained so Mom and Dad can go out on a hot date.

Sharing toys with Nonnie's boys ...

Jack's first hike, we're practicing for our big camping trip this summer!


And finally, this picture make me laugh! We'd been hiking for so long that Jack didn't realize he could put his arms down.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Entertain Yourself

So there have been some complaints about no new blog posts this past week. Exxxcuuuse me faithful followers, but I have been busy having tons of fun with our latest round of houseguests. And after 4 nights of staying up late hanging out with friends, and 4 mornings of getting up early with never-sleeps-in-a-day-of-his-life Jack, I'm a tad exhausted. Too tired, in fact, to try to think up something clever to say tonight. Plus, our guests this past weekend have an awesome camera so I'm waiting until the photographer posts pictures so you can all have a top-notch visual experience, in addition to my rhetorical analysis of the events.

In the meantime, you may want to entertain yourself by checking out the webpage I created in my 8th grade computer class. This is how I channeled my html genius before Facebook and Blogger were on the scene. Actually, I had pretty much forgotten about this totally awesome site, until I got an email this week informing me that GeoCities is closing! So hurry, because after October 26 my labor of love will no longer be available!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Gentle Jack

I love watching Jack play with his toys. It's fun to watch his budding personality come through. It appears that he has his mom's patience and his dad's attention to detail. Then again, Jon and I are very similar in both of those areas. Sometimes I'm a little surprised at how rough he is with his toys. Where did he learn this stuff?? And where did this baby-anger come from?
It's also interesting to see which toys he plays with the most. Despite a pile of singing, flashing, moving, colorful pieces of plastic, his go-to toy is currently a compartmentalized plate (you'll see it in the video). He does the same thing every time, open and shut the doors, and take off the blue one. I put it back on for him, and within a few seconds he pulls it off again. He's very predictable.
And I'm always amazed to see how much he can concentrate on one little, tiny aspect of one, lonely toy. If you give him a stuffed animal, he will go straight to the tag and flick it back and forth for the whole play time. He loves to flick one of my finger nails when I'm holding him, and last night while we were laying on the couch his activity of choice was running his finger over the ridges on my front tooth. It was so weird I couldn't stop laughing, and then I was afraid I was going to accidentally bite him. But he was very serious about inspecting mommy's teeth.
So that's our son, our little mini-us whose quirks keep us entertained on daily basis!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independence Day

We had a low-key 4th of July this year. We were supposed to have guests in for the weekend but they ended up arriving and leaving earlier than expected, so it was just the three of us celebrating our nation's independence. I must say, the long-weekend festivities just weren't the same as a new mom. Somehow "freedom" takes on a whole new meaning as the primary caregiver of a nursing, napping 8 month old. But we had fun enjoying having our house all to ourselves and recooping after a week with the cousins!
This is the third year in a row our little neighborhood has put on its own parade. Everyone is invited to participate by gathering together a few minutes before the official "start time." But we opted to watch instead. :) Basically it's just a group of people and pets all dressed in their patriotic best, walking, biking, riding, strollering, driving or golf carting down the street, waving at all their neighbors. It's a cute and fun addition to the day. Kind of like Jack. Speaking of whom, Lush Bucket loved all the attention. Their were ladies stopping to let him know how cute he was, fellow babies babbling as their parents pushed them by, and doggies eager to jump on mommy's lap and exchange kisses! Someone even threw us two pieces of candy! Unfortunately, it all ended too quickly. Poor Jack kept looking down the street to see if anyone else was going to walk by.
So here are a few pictures of what was likely our last 4th of July at The Beach...

Our youngest guest, 2-week old Rose.


And the neighborhood parade ...

And the parade's biggest fan taking it all in ...

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Tank Mobilizes

So finally, about 4-5 months later than expected, Jack has learned how to roll over! He's been so close since about 4 months but could never get that big ole thigh lifted over. And then one day, Jon and are playing with Jack on the floor, and he just flips onto his belly like he's been doing it all his life.
And that's all it took. Since then he's been rolling around like it's his job. Which poses a few new problems. Now he cries if he wakes up and finds himself on his belly, which has caused more than a few sleep disruptions. And he rolls until he hits an object (like a wall or the coffee table) and then cries when he can't roll anymore. And he rolls, and rolls, and rolls, until he's rolled clear across the room and is teetering on the edge of the steps. Yikes! Gone are the days of "plop Jack in the middle of the room with toys while I get some things done."
But all complaints aside it's fun to watch him grow up and learn new things. He's pretty proud of the way he can get around now. And I'm pretty proud I can finally cross "rolls over" off my devlopmental list. :)

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