Thursday, September 30, 2010


I've been a little homesick lately. But I'm not quite sure for what. I always long for Pennsylvania, but after going-on-5-years of marriage and living elsewhere, I don't miss it quite like I used to. I love going back to visit, but realize we'll probably never put down roots there. And for the first time in many years I'm okay with that.

I definitely miss Virginia Beach. I still have many, many Facebook friends that are there and keep me updated on what I'm missing out on. The move is still fresh, but I'm sure in time I'll come to view that place much the same as Pennsylvania - wonderful memories, lovely to visit, but no longer home. We could end up moving back some day with the Coast Guard, but our life there would never be the same. I've come to realize the best time to live at the beach is when you are newlyweds, young marrieds, or young marrieds with one small child. Anything beyond that presents its challenges! Then again, can't you just see Jack and Jude being total surfer dudes in high school one day? :)

Oddly enough, I've been missing a bit of my undergrad too. I was more than ready to leave that place when the time came, I even overloaded on courses so I could finish up a semester early ... and wound up getting married and moving south before many of my classmates had taken their finals. Living in quintessential suburbia has me really missing the coffee shop, pizza joint, diner, cobblestone streets and quaint shops of my old college town. And I bet the leaves around the lake at the school are just starting to turn. *sigh*

But today is dark and rainy. Jack is watching "Baby Genius" and I'm typing to the tune of a string orchestra, taking a break every few seconds to sip hot tea, with a spot of milk, out of my Blackwell's mug. The mug that survived 4 moves (one overseas) and is still going strong. Bits and pieces of the Jane Austen autobiography I read weeks ago are still resonating in my mind, and I've just finished looking at my friend's pictures of Nottingham on Facebook. Guess what I'm missing today?

England. Good ole England. Who stole a piece of my heart that can only be filled with tea, digestives, good literature, the Oxford Boys' Choir CD and an occasional rainy morning. To soothe my sappy souled self, I decided to re-visit a few of my old haunts via Google Earth.

The street I lived on, which backs up to a toilet manufacturing plant.  Did I mention that the entire back of the building is windows?  And that we did not have curtains in our flat?
The end of our street - Park End, full of random walking paths, vegetable gardens, canal boats and cows.

The Co-op, our grocery store.  Where I fell in love with digestives, and learned that English food generally comes in smaller quantities.
New College, my campus for a semester.  The computer lab where I typed many a paper and blog post was behind one of these windows.
Blackwells.  Purveyor of books.  Donator of favorite tea mug.
I don't know what it is about the Motherland that captivates me so. I love the land, the rain, the fog, the green fields, the streets, the oldness, the richness of culture, the people and their accents, dry wit and understated view of the world. I wish they needed some U.S. Coast Guard officers over there so we could pack up, live in a "flat," enroll the boys in boarding school, buy them khakis and blue blazers, and teach Jack how to play rugby. I pray all the time that God will open a door for us to live in England, just for a little while. Or, if not, give me somewhere new to love, a bit more local. But for now, I try to restrict these dreams to the occasional rainy morning and focus more on the here and now. Which, at the moment, is in the family room, with two little boys ...

... making blanket forts on a rainy Thursday morning.

Do they build blanket forts in England?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Maryland, Meet Virginia

This past weekend we were privileged to host our good friends fromVirginia Beach - Bryan, Janine, Abbie and Nate.  You may remember Janine as one of my former co-workers.  Abbie and Jack are 4.5 months apart and good buds.  And Nate was born about 6 weeks after Jude.  In fact, the last time Janine and I saw each other was when I escaped from the movers and stopped by to see the new baby after she had just got home from the hospital.  Clearly it has been too long since I got to hang out with "the other Janine." 

Cue the "Reunited" soundtrack!

I had big plans to photograph the reunion weekend.  Jack and Abbie's initial greetings, Jude and Nate's playtime...

... the men watching football, the ladies in the kitchen... I think sometimes I forget I only have two hands which, for the most part, were occupied with food - preparing, cooking and of course EATING, breaking apart toddler toy-sharing spats, and cuddling and nursing babies.  If only I could employ a full-time family historian to record all these precious moments as a growing family!

I did get a few shots of our day at Watkins park.  Abbie got to ride a horse,

we found out that our fearless son gets a bit nervous on carousels,

and all 8 of us got to ride together on a "choo-choo" train. 

In addition to discovering that I've inherited my mother and grandmother's knack for overestimating food quantities (we're on day 3 of steak leftovers), ...

 I also appreciated having someone to share a girly movie with.  Between the older kiddos' bedtime and naptime, we were actually able to watch all 4 hours of "North and South."  We took popcorn, homemade milkshakes and babies to the office and got our girly movie fill while the big boys watched football.

It's convenient having friends at the same place in life as you.  We can both attempt to keep our toddlers in church as long as possible, which ends up not being long at all.  We can both end up missing over half the sermon because two little babies decided it was time to eat.  We can ask for the same seating at a restaurant - 2 adults, 1 booster seat and 1 carseat sling.  You have a buddy to hang out in the restroom with while your kids "run off the wiggles" that were making eating lunch somewhat difficult.  You both realize the importance of not allowing the toddlers to fall asleep in the car on the way home.  And because of all the similarities you never run out of conversation.

Both Jon and I feel that God has blessed us beyond what we deserve and we love to share this blessing with others.  Sometimes this house feels huge with just the four of us, and I have to admit, I'm not crazy about all the cleaning that comes with the extra square footage.  But when the rooms are filled with friends and family it feels just right.  When the kids are running around the yard, the babies are playing in the toy room, the men are in the den, the woman are chatting in the kitchen.  When the bedrooms are full to overflowing and we run out of hot water during shower times.  That's when our house is the perfect fit!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The day dinos came to dinner

I like to think that my kids are "all boy."  And from what I hear, most people would agree.  Jack's most frequently used word lately has been "football", followed closely by "ow" and "boo boo."  He certainly plows through the house, diving over babies and furniture, as if he's about to score a touchdown.  And then there's the injuries.  The other night he elected to jump off of the recliner and onto the floor.  Unfortunately, the corner of the brick fireplace ended up between him and his destination.  But the big ole' bump it left on his head was nothing compared to the battle wound he received the day before, when he did a faceplant on the patio.  Two words:  Blood everywhere.  The good news is, my injury prone child is quick to recover.  A pierced lip is easily remedied with a teething ring and some frozen fruit.  I'm beginning to realize that fruit, especially grapes, is the fastest way to divert my son from any precarious situation. 

Jack has just under two years of sonship under his belt, and he's already filling our house with yelling, jumping, trucks, pretend sirens, growling, dirt, rocks, sticks.  He hands me boogies.  He finds treasures in the trash can.  He picks "ah-pools" (from our weeping cherry tree) off the ground and carries fistfulls into the house.  He likes to jump over his brother when Jude is lying on the ground.  He likes to see how high he can push Jude in the swing when mommy isn't looking.  He loves to jump, jump, jump on the bed and then land on the floor with a thud big enough to shake the house.  He's never without some miniature form of transportation - truck, car or train.  And he especially likes to include these special guests in mealtimes.  I've found raisins in the back of his truck, a matchbox car washed in tomato soup, and dinosaur footprints across my table.

Because who needs spoons when you can just eat off a dinosaur's tail?

But Jack is in touch with his feminine side too.  He gets a kick out of trying on my shoes.  He's captivated by my make-up (probably because it's so messy!), and I found him in my closet trying on bracelets the other night.  He's also a great help in the kitchen!

And he can be gentle too, despite the stories Jude has to tell.  He loves to mother his own "bee-bee."  Burping the baby is his favorite, but usually he just tucks it under his arm and carries it around the house.  It's the other "Jude" in our lives (since all babies are "Jeww" right now), and the perfect "Jude" for Jack to practice on. 

Of course, like any good son, Jack loves to bring me flowers.  It's very sweet, too bad they are usually freshly picked from my own pots.  I have repeatedly asked him not to pick the blooms off the plants, but I have a hard time following-through.  I mean, who wants to discipline their kid for brining them a flower?  I certainly don't.

 *sigh* I'm such a sucker for "all boys" ... with a side of sweetness. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Now about those New Year's goals ...

Remember back in January?  Back when I thought everyday life was a bit overwhelming?  Back when I was the mother of only one small child and one substantial bump?  Back when I wrote these goals for 2010?  Well I remember.  And those goals have been on my mind a lot lately, espeically since I realized that we are now halfway through September.  My second-favorite month.  And well on our way through the final quarter of the year!  Just when did this happen? 

2010 has been the year of Great Thirds.  The first third was pre-#2.  Jack and I had a good groove going, I had high hopes of maintaining our quality of life, I spent my days playing with my zesty kiddo and my nights dreaming of life with a new baby.  The second third started April 20, Jude's arrival.  I think every mom should give herselft some time to relax and re-group after delivering a child.  Of course, I'm sure there are those who can finish vacuuming and write out a grocery list while laboring, give birth the following morning, take a nap, and then cart their new brood to the store the next day to get supplies needed to finish off the menu planning they did the week before.  I am not one of those .... yet!  So I was more than willing to lay low for a good 6-8 weeks until we got our life in order.  Of course, that was the same time we moved.  And then WHAM! it was summer and we had vacations and trips and visitors.  And then Jude turned 4 months and you all know how that went.  So somehow the survival mode mentality that we brought home from the hospital with our new baby has taken up residence in the guest room and I've had a very hard time giving her the boot!

And now it's September, and I just looked at my calendar and realized we've spent a record-breaking 2 weekends in a row at home, all by ourselves, with no guests.  We're getting better at this whole living-in-our-house thing (shhh, don't tell October!).  And it was just a few weeks ago that Jon and I looked at each other and both said something along the lines of, "Wow, for the first time I feel like we've gotten our lives back in order!"  And there's not a doubt in my mind that this has something to do with a good routine.  Jon's back to work/school, he leaves the same time every morning, goes to class, studies, comes home almost the same time every day, goes to the gym, comes home for dinner and time with his boys, and then starts homework again.  It's predictable, it's proven and it's good.  Thus I have been inspired to do the same at home. 

Enter:  The Daily Schedule.

Now before you go and think I'm some crazy drill sergeant running around with a whistle in my mouth and a stop watch in my hand, hear me out!  We don't follow this to a "T", any times listed are general.  I don't think we've ever gotten it exact yet, and it seems like most days we don't follow it at all.  Instead it serves as a great guide, proven suggestions... and we don't have to worry about the dreaded "Now what?" creeping into our days.  When we stick to "the schedule" my kids are almost-kinda-nearly-perfect-angels.  If nothing else, they're not cranky because they don't get hungry, bored or tired.  All those needs are pre-empted.  ...when we stick to the schedule.  And since we don't always do that, well we get more than our share of hungry, bored, and tired.

And so I thought I'd share for anyone else who feels like me or for those of you who are highly amused by people like me.  This is what works for us:

Above my calendar I have the text-only version for myself (and for Jon if he's ever interested).  I actually starting creating this before Jude was born.  We pushed it hard during those early weeks when Jack would attack me every time I sat down to nurse the baby, it forced us to provide ways to keep Jack occupied every time Jude would eat.  Then we lost it in the Great Computer Crash and chaos that is summer.  I just finished re-tweaking it for fall (and an older Jude) a few weeks ago.  Basically, it shows our day divided into half-hour (and occasionally 15-minute) increments.  There are three-colored-coded columns for Jack, Jude and myself that list what each of us can be expected to do at that time.  For instance, at 10:30am we (most days) are going for a walk to the park.  That's an easy one.  A trickier one is 4:30pm (which used to be the wrost hour of the day!), when Jack is supposed to be doing "structured play" (at this age we do some coloring, play-doh and puzzles, etc.) at the table, Jude is playing with a toy in his chair and I'm working on dinner.  Or there is the 9:15am hour, when Jack is having "independent play" in his toy room, Jude is in the middle of a nap, and I'm doing work.  It's one thing to keep the boys on a routine but it has been so helpful to me to have certain times during the day where I can plan on doing something.  I don't stress about dishes piling in the sink, a project that needs done for work, or falling behind on laundry (more on that later) because I know that there are times throughout my day where both boys are occupied that I can get it done.  Amazing, no?.

So that's the Master Schedule, for me, The Captain, because during the day I run this ship.  But I wanted to keep Jack included too.  So on the front of the fridge is the picture-version of just Jack's schedule.  Each activity is accompanied by an image.  For instance, at 8am Jack is allowed to watch "TV" (usually he picks a Baby Einstein movie).  So there's a picture of a television in the 8:00 block.  When it's time for breakfast, lunch and dinner we use a picture of table setting.  Naptime and bedtime show a crib.  "Daddy time" is a picture of Jon. :)  And we also have a FREE! icon for when I couldn't think of anything else.  It also helps us catch-up if we get off schedule.

In an ideal world we'd move the magentic-picture-frame thinger over the square that we're currently on.  Usually I forget most of the time.  It's not entirely necessary anyway.  But it is helpful when Jack is wandering around the house, carrying his shoes, saying "walk, walk" when I'm still in my pajamas.  For a little person with no concept of time, it's much easier to say "See.  We'll go for a walk after playroom time.  First we'll read books, then you'll play, and then we'll go for a walk."  I'm not sure if he gets it yet, but someday he will.

Now, raising kids is only part of my job.  How much fun would it be if the only things moms had to do was take care of kids?  No more cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, running errands and all those other million little things that I always forget I have to do!  Now that I've got my kids' life somewhat organized, it's time to start working on my own.  I've been hearing a lot about this planner created and offered by Motivated Moms.  It is something that was showing up on a lot of my favorite blogs during the new year.  It looked interesting, but I never followed-through with it.  Well last week I found out the planners were on sale ($4 instead of a whopping $8) since there are only 4 months left in the year.  So I "splurged" and downloaded a copy.  And I'm in love.  Just in case you aren't aware, I'm kinda a detailed, write-it-out, make-a-list and check-it-off kinda gal.  I mean, I really get a kick out of crossing things off lists.  And there's just something about creating tables and spreadsheets that makes my heart do flip-flops... just in case you couldn't tell.  So I pretty much think my new Motivated Moms Planner is the most prettiest piece of ink-on-paper my eyes have ever beheld.  Except for the "Comic Sans" font.  Can we please outlaw Comic Sans??  (My mom, the Kindergarten teacher, says "no" because it's one of the few fonts that uses a correct "a".)

In short, it's a planner that outlines daily and weekly "chores" (my version also includes daily Bible readings if you want to read the Bible through in a year.)  Except these aren't your average chores. Well they are, but there's more.  I gotta admit I was sold when I saw she included "clip children's fingernails" on one week's list.  I'm the horrible mom that always waits until her kids are drawing blood before thinking to clip their nails, and then it takes me another week or so to find the clippers before I actually get it done.  Well, not anymore.  It would bug me even more than long nails to leave that block uncrossed on my planner, so I'm sure I'll be taking such hyegenic measures in a more timely manner now.  She also has you changing out your dish towels and washcloths three times a week.  Ugh, I've always been so afraid of going down in history as "the lady with the sour dishcloths", hopefully this will keep me on my game.  Now I am being a tad sarcastic, and I have to admit, I didn't really "change the dish towel" yesterday like I was supposed to.  And I haven't completed Sunday's task of "making a shopping and errand list" yet.  This is only my first week folks.  But I've got high hopes.  Especially since today was the first time I have ever vacuumed our upstairs since we moved.  (Usually Jon's the vacuum wielder, nice huh?).  But I did it today, and just about scared the living daylights out of my littlest guy, because Motivated Mom said so.  And because I wanted to check something off the list (and maybe leave it out on the counter so my husband could see that I'm really trying to do this thing right!). 

And that is where I'm at.  It's only taken me 9 months to get this far, maybe I'll have it all right by next New Year.  But not likely.  Halfway there is still better than never starting.  Now if you'll excuse me, Jude has woken up from his nap 30 minutes early.  And even though he's not slated to eat for another 10 minutes, I'm thinkin' he may be hungry since he's fussing and lunging at my chest with an open mouth.  And there goes the schedule...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jude's first haircut

Unlike his brother, Jude was born with a decent amount of hair.  Most of it is located top and center.  He's worn off a good portion around the middle and has a bit of a tuft at the back.

He's starting to grow some new fluff.  But a few baby hairs seem to determined to hang on for dear life.  And by a few I mean, maybe 10?  They drive me crazy.  Ten random hairs that stick out an inch longer than the rest.  Ten tiny strands that catch the light and show up in pictures.  Ten itsy locks that had to go.

And so I did it.  I brought out the rounded-end scissors and, with about three snips, took care of random hairs once and for all.  Ta-da, Jude's first haircut.

And I've learned one thing.  The only thing more difficult than cutting a bobbing-headed 5-month old's hair ...

... is trying to take a picture of it!

Monday, September 13, 2010

I'm Booking It (August)

Despite being a busy summer, I was able to carve out a bit of time each week to indulge in some great reads.  I got a lot of reading done while traveling in the car, an entire series completed during our week at the beach and lately I've been stealing an hour or so in the evenings after the little guys have gone to bed and Jon is busy doing homework.  I feel like we've finally got our lives together from the move, things have slown down considerably now that summer is over, and Jude has started going to bed at the same time as Jack, so it's nice to have some legitimate time to settle down with a book during the week.

For starters, I read the Song of Acadia series written by Janette Oke and T. Davis Bunn.  I read the first book, and maybe the second, of this series many, many years ago, before the rest of the books were written.  It's been so long I've forgotten about them.  After reading A Mother's Hope earlier and getting frustrated that I'll have to wait months and months to read the next one, I remembered the last time this happened to me.  I also needed some good, "quick" reads to take to the beach.  Janette Oke is one of my favorite authors, I knew they were a safe pick, and to top it all off all 5 books were at the library, sitting together on the shelf, and within easy reach when I was in a hurry to escape the "quiet" library with a toddler exercising his "outside voice."  These are great books from proven authors and the perfect choice for fast beach reads.  I mean, it's Janette Oke, 'nuff said.

While I was re-organizing my bedstand I realized I had started, but never finished, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer for Toddlers.  I wish I had finished this months ago when I began it because it had some great information that I could have used back then, especially the section on adding a second baby to your family.  A lot of it was common sense, or at least it seemed so in hindsight.  But it did help open my eyes to a few "mistakes" I've been making.  For instance, Hogg suggests that you never "blame" things on the baby, such as saying, "Jack, we have to leave the park now because Mommy needs to feed Jude."  She claims this will build animosity between your kids.  I don't know if I'd take it that far, but I do try to be more careful about making Jude seem like the party pooper.  I'm a big fan of the Baby Whisperer for Babies, and while this book did have some helpful information, I think toddlerhood may be where Hogg and I part ways.  Even so, if she was alive and willing, I'd have her over in heartbeat to "analyze" my toddler.  Now THAT would be fun.

I also came across 101 Things You Didn't Know about Jane Austen in my bedstand.  My sister-in-law Kate gave this to me for Christmas, which is when I started reading it.  It must have been during one of my cleaning frenzies that I put it away (in a proper location no less) and then promptly forgot about it.  Out of sight, out of mind.  So I brought it back out, set it back on top of the bedstand where it belonged, and I've been reading bits and pieces of it ever since.  First off, this book is just plain cute.  It's small, square and divied up into 101 segments no more than a few pages long.  It makes the best nursing reading.  I think the title is a bit misleading though.  I was expecting more trivia or long-lost secrets.  Instead, it reads more like a biography, and is basically a collection of random information about my most favorite author.  I think one of my favorite parts of this book is the references page at the end, because it's provided me with an entire list of new reads to tackle over the next few months, starting with ...

Sandition by Jane Austen and "Another Lady."  This was the novel that Jane was working on when she died, thus it was never finished.  It wasn't until after I started reading the version I got from the library that I realized she had only written the first 11 chapters, which was maybe 1/4 of the book.  At first, I have to admit, I was a bit annoyed.  I thought it was pretty obvious where Jane left off and some unknown stranger picked up.  I never got over the fact that "Another Lady" referred to all the gentlemen using their first names.  I don't know about you, but it took me about 3 reads of Pride and Prejudice before I realized Darcy's first name was Fitzwilliam.  Besides that glaring difference, the entire time I'm reading the book I kept thinking, "I wonder if this is where she really meant to take this novel."  I guess we'll never know.  But while it isn't authentically "Jane", it was close.  And after I got over that fact I began to enjoy the book a bit more as just another good story.  I would recommend it to other Jane fans.  I think it contains some of her most interesting characters.  And since reading it I've learned there exists at least one other version.  So of course, I'll have to explore that as well.

Finally, I've crossed off another title on the list of "Books to Read" that I've been keeping since college.  Amusing Ourselves to Death was mentioned a lot during my Communication classes as an undergrad and graduate student.  I've read a few excerpts from it as well as a different book from the author, Neil Postman, but hadn't yet got my hands on the actual book.  I had completely forgotten about it until I saw it on a list of recommended books on a website I was exploring.  It must be a popular book because all copies at all area libraries were checked out and I had to put a hold on it a few weeks back.  It took me a bit of reading to really get in to it.  I've been out of school for two years now and haven't done much academic reading since then.  But it's all coming back to me now.  In fact, I'm really wishing I had just bought a copy for myself because I'm constantly having to refrain from underlining.  This was a great choice to beat my "it's-August-and-I-miss-being-a-student" blues.
Favorite quotes:
  "...telegraphy gave a form of legitimacy to the idea of context-free information; that is, to the idea that the value of information need not be tied to any function it might serve in social and political decision-making and action, but may attach merely to its novelty, interest, and curiosity.  The telegraph made information into a commodity, a "thing" that could be bought and sold irrespective of its uses or meaning" (p. 65). 
"In the information world created by telegraphy, this sense of potency was lost, precisely because the whole world became the context for news.  Everything became everyone's business.  For the first time, we were sent information which answered no question we had asked, and which, in any case, did not permit the right of reply"  (p. 69). 
"Where people once sought information to manage the real contexts of their lives, now they had to invent contexts in which otherwise useless information might be put to some apparent use" ergo we now have crossword puzzles, cocktail parties, quiz shows and "Trivial Pursuit" (p. 76).
I found myself constantly thinking of today, 25 years after Postman wrote this book, and how much Facebook, Twitter and other social media resemble telegraphy.
Of course, this book was really about television and how this medium has affected society.  It was interesting, but not exactly what I was expecting to read.  Rather than suggesting we bust up our TVs or begin regulating the quality of programming, Postman says that "Television ... serves us most usefully when presenting junk-entertainment; it serves us most ill when it co-opts serious modes of discourse--news, politics, science, education, commerce, religion--and turns them into entertainment packages" (p. 159).  Now, if you'll excuse me, "Top Chef" is on and I should probably go Tweet about how I've learned to cook bacon three ways.  Bacon foam.  Yum.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Translation of Jude's video chat

What Jude really said:

On Monday Nonnie and Poppie left and we were all a little sad.  Jack decided to find solace in his bottle of gummy vitamins.  While Daddy was in the office and Mommy was upstairs with me, my brother snuck into the drawer, pulled out his vitamins, and somehow cracked the child-proof code.  Then he sat in the living room and ate the remaining 2/3 of a container of vitamins.  My parents didn't figure it out until hours later when Daddy found the empty bottle under the couch.  Jack was sound asleep by then and didn't appear to be suffering from ill effects of Gummy Vites overdose so we all breathed a sigh of relief.  Mommy said he had some really nasty diapers the next day, but other than that he's pretty much normal.

Even though we're missing our grandparents, Nonnie and Poppie left us some school stuff behind to remember them by.  Like our totally sweet whale (or as Jack says "__sheee") pajamas.  Mommy loves putting us in matching outfits.  I wonder how long we should let her get away with this?  For now, I like looking like Jack.  I think my big brother is the funniest man in the whole world!

On Wednesday Mommy put Jack and I in the stroller to go to the playground.  She forgot to bring the garage door opener but when she went to go get it she found out the door was locked.  And that every other door into the house was locked.  Along with most of the windows.  Mommy's face got very white.  She tried to call Daddy a few times but he can't bring his cell phone into school.  So we went to the park anyway.  Mommy says this is another reason why we really need to make friends here.  I'm trying really hard, but I don't think people take me seriously at this age.

Mommy let us stay at the park a very long time!  I fell asleep in her arms and when I woke up we were back in our backyard and Mommy was pulling on all the windows.  Jack was getting really hungry but since he had picked all the tomatoes off the plants last week there wasn't even anything in the garden to eat.  Finally Mommy got a little screw driver from the garage, found one window that Daddy had neglected to lock the night before when he zealously secured the rest of the house, and pried off the screen.  She waved to our next door neighbor and then disappeared through the curtain.  Next thing I knew she was running out the back door, high-fiving Jack.  Daddy finally called back 3 hours later to make sure we were okay.

On Thursday Mommy took us to meet her old neighbor, Jolene, and her three kids Ryan, Mason and Addie.  We drove a long time to this awesome park with lots and lots of playgrounds, a nature center with snakes and frogs, and a farm with a bunch of animals. We saw bunnies, chickens, sheep and a hugantic cow!!  Jack said it was so cool!!  Next time we go Mommy said we can ride the merry-go-round and the train! 

Mommy met a lady at the park who invited us to go to a gym on Friday.  So after stopping at Wal-Mart so Mommy could use coupons to get free cheese and free dish soap, we were off to the gym.  But Mommy couldn't find it.  She drove up and down and up and down the road.  She even stopped and asked for directions.  But we still couldn't find it anywhere!  Jack had turned on his cranky voice and I was getting really hungry!  Finally Mommy gave up and took us to Chick-Fil-A.  She let Jack loose in the play place and sat down to finally get me some second breakfast!  A really nice lady sat down beside us and said, "I have breastfed all my kids in this exact same spot.  So don't feel weird that some lady is sitting down next to you while you nurse your baby."  Which was good 'cuz I was really hungry.  Mommy and her talked about babies, homeschooling, Mom's clubs and other woman stuff.  It also happened to be that Chick-Fil-A's birthday so the cow that my older brother is deathly afraid of came around to say "hello."  Jack only likes cows from a distance so he hid behind the balloon lady.  She made him a balloon dog with a leash.  But when we got home Jack decided to walk to the front door behind the rose bushes and that was the end of balloon dog.

Oh, and one more thing.  I decided to start sleeping through the night again.  As much as I loved hanging out with Mommy in the middle of the night, she was starting to look a little tired during the day.  Plus she seems a lot happier to see me in the mornings when she's had a good night's sleep.  Sometimes she's even already dressed when she comes to get me!  Today I let her sleep in until 7:30, but apparently she was up early anyway to make sure I wasn't just playing a trick.  The best part is that Daddy and her said I might get to sleep in Jack's room at night now if I can keep really quiet.  Yeah for sleepovers with my best bud!!

Okay Mommy's giving me hand signals that say "time to wrap this up kid" so that's enough chatter for now.  Thanks for listening to my story of our week!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Vlog about our week

It's been a fun-filled week at our house.  I'm a little busy to write it all down so here to tell you about it is our youngest family member:

P.S.  Sorry the picture is out of focus.  I'm waiting for my expert lil' brother to give me some lessons on the video option on my new camera.

Monday, September 6, 2010

So long summer!

Happy Labor Day!  Does anyone really know what this holiday is all about?  I didn't.  So I looked it up on Wikipedia and after reading over the entry I still didn't get it.  All I know is that it signifies the end of summer and the beginning of college football season.  And in my personal life it also seems to be the time of year when all my friends are having babies.  Laboring on Labor Day ... how cute!

So we have been wringing out the last few drops of summer with some special guests.  Last weekend Jon's sister and her four boys came for a visit.  Jack had a blast with his older cousins.  They kept him so occupied that we saw very little of him the whole weekend, and thus I have no pictures.

This past weekend Jon's parents came for a visit.  To continue our theme of getting to know our new homeland, we dropped by George Washington's house for a beautiful afternoon of sightseeing.

Notice I said afternoon.  How silly of us to assume Jack would enjoy a historial tour smack in the middle of naptime.  Needless to say, it got a little rough.  But Mt. Vernon is quite stunning.  There is so much to see and learn about, we never really got to it all.  We'll certainly be making a trip back.  Perhaps childless, or at least during one of Jack's happier hours.

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon during naptime.
I did learn a lot about our first president in the little we did see and do.  Enough to make me want to learn more.  So I think I'll be checking out "George Washington" books at the library this next week.  What I was most impressed with, other than the remarkable views from the front porch, was that his estate was entirely self-sufficient.  Not that that wasn't unusual in his day, but it's just something I loved to see firsthand.  Kinda like this modern family, only a bit more charming.

Kisses for Mommy.

... wiping away kisses for Mommy.
On Sunday Jon's aunt, uncle and cousins stopped by for a few hours while driving through.  Aunt Julie and Uncle Bob have let us "crash" their parties on more than one occasion while we lived in Virginia.  So Jon and I were more than happy to host our favorite hosts for the evening.  Hopefully the trend continues, we have a lot of favors to repay.  It was the most perfect end-of-summer day.  Cool and cloudless.  Jack's laughter was wafting through the open windows, I was wearing jeans, Jude was snug in a hoodie, spicy candles were burning in all the rooms, marshmallows were toasting over the fire chimney and our house was full of friendly faces.  Just the way we like it!

I also had my first successful garden harvest dish (other than a few random tomatoes) - pesto!  I've never made it before this week ... I'm not even sure if I've ever tasted it.  But ooo I've fallen in love!  Maybe next year I'll just plant an entire garden of basil, since so far that is the one plant that has actually had a healthy production.

Unfortunately, the cool spell seems to have ended.  Jon and his dad went biking this morning and then took the boys to the pool so us ladies could go shopping ... without kids.  It's definitely something that doesn't happen often enough around here.  I spent the first half-hour looking over my shoulder to check on the boys in the non-existent stroller, but eventually I got used to shopping alone and having both hands free to hold things.  And did I ever hold things.  Pretty much cleaned out the summer clearance rack at Old Navy.  But really, it's hard to top $.33 shirt and $3.00 jeans.  And coming home with such steals really just made my day!

Nonnie gave Jack a blue lollipop.

What a way to end summer ... I think.  I mean, we've been trying to end summer around here for a few weeks now.  But Mother Nature must not be getting my memos.  But  if Wikipedia says this is the end of summer, and wikipedia is always right, what do you call the time between now and September 21?

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