Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Pennsylvania Thanksgiving

And I'm not just saying that because I can't think of a Thanksgivingish title that I haven't already used before, although that is true too.  But because it's a big deal that, for the first time in our married life, we went "home" for Thanksgiving.  I know, I didn't believe it at first either.  But it's true.  Our first Thanksgiving Jon had just returned from 2 months underway and didn't feel like traveling, so my family came to us in our Original Love Nest.  Our second Thanksgiving Jon was working those crazy shifts and couldn't take off, so my family came again.  By now they were more than willing to make a tradition of 70 degree beach walks after a huge dinner ... and tree hunting at the creepy neighbors lot.  So it was an easy decision to have them back again for Year 3, aided by the fact that we had a 7 week old and weren't getting much sleep in those days.  And since Jon didn't feel like making the 8 hour drive twice in one month with a one year old last year, it was only natural to reunite once more at the beach for our final Virginia thanksgiving and tree choosing.  But enough about Virginia, the beach, and the creepy neighbor that sold Christmas trees.  Yes, I miss even him ... and the nasty stuffed animals he tied to the trees in his yard.  I digress.

Now that I think about it, this title is a bit misleading since we actually drove to New Jersey to have Thanksgiving dinner with Jon's mom's family. This is the family that usually gets together the week before Christmas, but won't be this year.  The family that all met up at the Lake House this summer for Nana's 80th birthday party.  This is the BIG family that is a bit hard to keep up with, but loads of fun all the same.

Photo Credit:  Bonnie Wells
Rumor has it little Jude takes after his Aunt Julie and cousin Maddy.  Do you see the resemblance?
And you know what made the day even extra special this year?  It snowed!  Not a blizzard or anything, but enough to dust the car and enough to send Jack running to the window and more than enough to deem the day "Jude's First Snow."  It was perfect.

Another highlight of our trip was the Christmas tree hunt.  The real kind, where you actually have to take a saw and cut down the tree yourself.  Okay, well I suppose there are even more hardcore people out there who go into a real forest and cut down a wild tree, which sounds incredibly appealing to me, but not exactly do-able currently.  So we settled for a tree farm and some $20 firs. 


I have fond memories of the whole family, including our dog Cody, tromping around our favorite tree farm, studying each and every tree, fingers bent into a triangle to ensure symmetically shaped branches, arguing over who's pick is better, fighting over who got to pick last year's tree and who's turn it is to pick it this year, hands and feet numb from hours in the cold, finally settling one one just so we can get back into the car.  Then we'd set it up in the house,  crank up the Christmas music, string on the lights, mentally separate the tree into 3 sections, and each of us kids would hang our ornaments in "our spot."  Then we'd stand back, admire our handiwork and exclaim it was the best tree ever.  And some years we'd come back down the stairs the next morning and find the tree laid out on the floor with a few broken Christmas ornaments around it.  And I may have cried once or twice over a broken ornament, but that's all in the past now.


This is the present, and this year Jack was along to lend a hand.


It was bitter cold, Jude was hungry and staying in the warm car, and Jack was approaching naptime.  Needless to say, we're all adults now and there wasn't much arguing over the tree this year.  But I will say, for the record, that I thought the final pick was a touch "too perfect." 


It also helped that since all us kids live on our own now we can pick our own trees, regardless of anyone else's opinion.  So we did.  Well, they did.  Jon and I and our little brood will be going out this weekend to a local farm to get our family's tree.



And Jack helped.  We all appreciated the cheap labor.



We had a second Thanksgiving dinner with Jon's other grandparents, who came in from New York.



Our family just keeps growing, and Jack was thrilled to officially be a part of "the kids' table."  And just in case you haven't noticed, there's a whole lotta boys in this family.  I'm definitely feeling the pressure to produce offspring of the female variety the next time around, but hey, there's only so much a girl can do!



We also took advantage of time in our home church to FINALLY get Jude dedicated.  This was a long time coming, but our little guy was all too happy to oblige.  He thoroughly enjoyed the event.  And I have no doubt that given the opportunity, he would have gladly grabbed the mic and MC'd the ceremony himself.


He looked positively dapper in his outfit Marmie and Poppa bought him for Christmas.  It was too cute to leave wrapped up until the 25th, and the occasion was a perfect excuse to don the gay apparel (my husband is going to love that line).



And I would be remiss not to mention one final highlight of our holiday - Jack's new buddy "Bellagio" the cat.  I would just like to publically commend this poor creature for putting up with my sons for 5 days.  I'm not a cat person, but seriously, I've never seen a more easy-going pet in my life.  Jack chased him in circles, dragged him around by the tail, carried him upside down, and hunted him throughout the house with a high-pitched "Kiiiitttty!!  Kiiiitttttyyyy-caaaat!" and yet he never once scratched or attacked back.  I just hope there was no permanent damage.



And Jack wasn't the only one smitten with Bellagio.  Jude thought he was the most hilarious thing he'd ever seen.  Like the best "Touch-and-Feel" book, only ten times better!  And lest you think our eldest is the one doing all the roughin' around ... I fear our little guy has been picking up on his brother's manhandling habits.  *sigh*  It may be awhile before we add a pet to this family.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I've heard that the most difficult adjustment is going from one kid to two.  After that its just adding another child.  I can't validate that theory myself, since I've only gone from zero to one (and thought that was kinda tough) and from one to two (and thought that was really tough!).  But it makes sense.  I mean, I can't quite picture Michelle Duggar saying, "Well the transition from 10 to 11 was quite a challenge, but going from 13 to 14 was pretty easy, and we hardly noticed the difference between 16 and 17 kids."  Maybe after a while it just becomes second nature.

I was thinking about the Duggars the other day while reading Psalm 127:

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward. 
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth. 
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.

Now, I don't ascribe to the whole "quiverfull" thing.  But while I don't buy into the whole philosophy I think they do have something right:  Children are a reward, God's heritage to parents.  Kids are an awesome blessing! 

And I think most people would agree with that.  Most parents I know truly love and enjoy their kids.  And is easy to say I'm thankful for my boys, especially this time of year when everyone is feeling thankful.  But some days, sometimes, it's hard to remember that they are truly a blessing, and not a burden, that they are my reward, not a cost.  They are our heritage, not a temporary stage of life. 

Sure it's been a challenge.  Anyone who reads this blog is well aware of that.  It's been 7 months of changing mutliple poopy diapers, 7 months of chasing a toddler in circles around the car while carrying a baby on my hip just so we can run a quick errand, 7 months of forgetting to clean-up the spit-up puddle because on my way to the sink to grab a washcloth the phone rang and then the oven timer went off and the baby needed a diaper change RIGHT NOW.  And 7 months of remembering the spit-up puddle only after I caught my toddler dancing in circles around it chanting "ma-milk, ma-milk!".  Seven months of juggling schedules, naps, meals, baths and a pile of laundry that has seemingly multiplied over the past few weeks! 

And it's those days that I want to go back a year or so ago, when I only had one kid and thought I was so incredibly busy, and slap that girl across the face.  Busy?  Honey, you have no idea!  But I can't.  And I'm sure God has a very good reason for not allowing time travel, I just haven't figured it out yet.  But it's also on those days when I think back to one evening in April.  Jon, Jack and I were enjoying some after-dinner time on the beach.  I was four days past my due date, torn between wanting to met our newest family member and wanting him to stay where he was - warm, quiet and safe from his headbutting brother.  A woman I'll never forget was walking along the water and stopped to ask when I was due.  After she found out we were expecting, at any moment, a second boy, only 18 months after his brother she said with more excitement than I had seen before or ever seen since, "Ohhh that's wonderful!  It's going to be great for you to have two boys so close together!"  And I believed her.  I wish I had gotten her name, her number, her email.  Anything.  So that on days that are not so hot, days when I feel like my only occupation is couch-cushion-replacer and baby-snuggler, days when I'm asking Jack for the twentieth time not to headbutt his brother, or put his hands in the toilet or dig for treasure in the car exhaust pipe.., I can call her up and say, "Tell me again how great this is going to be, I need to hear it again!"

And not that those days aren't happening less often, or that I suddenly don't mind them.  But we're starting to see small glimmers of hope, glimpses of that great future beach-lady alluded to. 

I see it when Jack and Jude start laughing together in the back of the car, I see it when my oldest son spontaneous picks up a toy and hands it to his brother, I see it when the boys entertain each other over dinner, and I see it during our special naptime book-reading ritual when the two boys, and Monkey, all cuddle under the blankets for storytime.  I see it when Jude's eyes light up when his brother walks into the room.  I see it in Jack's grave concern that Jude, and now Monkey, and dinosaurs, and Mr. Potato Head, etc., are all well-fed and burped. 

I see it in the way he apologizes, hugs and open-mouth kisses little "Jew" after doling out the aforementioned headbutt.  I see a good future with the four of us (and whomever else God chooses to add to our heritage).  I see lots of life lessons to practice amongst each other before we send our little olive shoots out into the world.  I see lots of opportunities to sharpen our arrows while they're still in the quiver, and I'm already beginning to see the targets we'll be aiming towards.

And I'm thankful. Not just for my two beautiful boys, or my wondeful, hardworking husband.  But also for the family that we're becoming.  For the hard days, the incredibly difficult days because they keep me working towards my goals.  For the poopy diapers that remind me that I have incredibly healthy little guys.  For the sour milk spit-up that reminds me I am still able to nourish my littlest one.  For Mickey Mouse Clubhouse because it allows me to write this blog this morning.  For the whining, "mommy-ing" and clinging because I know that I am loved and needed.  For the piles and piles of dirty laundry and dishes, reminders of special moments we've had together outside in the dirt and around our dinner table.  For two early, consistent risers that keep me from being lazy.  For the headbutting and arm swinging that allows us to daily practice loving discipline, forgiveness and restitution and has brought to light the importance of these things in my own life.  And for a God and Savior, who sends encouraging people along the way, whether on beach walks or virtual message groups, that motivate me to keep reaching for my goals, and Who dwells in this house and daily gives me the grace to do what I once thought I'd never be able to do.  My quiver may not be that full, but my heart most certainly is!

May you have a blessed Thanksgiving with your friends and family this week!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Let's Be Honest

I try to keep honesty the policy here.  And not that I make up stories or don't tell the truth, but it's much easier to focus on the good things and leave out the rest.  It's a lot more fun to talk about that awesome "Motivated Moms" checklist planner thing I bought a while back, rather than mention that I lost those checklists weeks ago somewhere in my "to-do" pile.  Or about the time Jack and I sang songs and danced around the living room, rather than the time I totally lost control, yelled at my child and stormed out of the room leaving Daddy in charge.  Yeah, that one didn't make the blog cut.  Or all my autumnal musings, the leaves, the pumpkins, the candles ... but not the rotten pumpkin that Jack accidentally slipped and fell on or the candle holder that shattered after one too many run ins with a toddler.  And I would much, much rather mention the scrumptious honey wheat pumpkin pecan muffins Jack and I make at least once a week ... than the double, nay quadruple, batch of macaroni and cheese that I completely scorched and ended up tossing in the trash.

True, full-disclosure isn't always as glamorous as pick-and-choose disclosure.  But it's also not relatable.  And that's what I want to be.  So for starters...

Some weeks, I just don't feel like blogging.  Then I'll look through a few old blog posts and think, "Wow, I'm so glad I wrote about all this because I would have totally forgotten."  It's the memories that keep me motivated ... well, that and the fact that my mom is very good at reminding me when it's been a while since I posted.  Then I'll force myself to ignore everything else that needs done, sit down, and catch the rest of the world up on our seemingly insignificant lives.  But sometimes I just don't have it in me.  Some weeks, like last week, I go through bloggers' block.  Not to be confused with writers' block, because that would be too easy.  I may have an idea, but can't put it into words.  Or if I do put it into words, it comes out all wrong.  And then I'll let the words sit there, and sit there, and come back a few days later and still have nothing.  Sometimes I never post it, other times I do and think, "Man, that's a bummer post." 

There are days, like last week, when I run out of creative juices and I realize I don't have any in the pantry either because they haven't been on sale in a while and now I have no way to get the ideas flowing.  So I'll look through my recent pictures hoping for inspiration and discover that *gasp* I haven't taken a single picture in 13 days!  And I mentally chide myself for neglecting to document Jude's life between the ages of 6 months, 12 day and 6 months, 25 days.  It saddens me to know he'll have such a gap in his digital baby book.  (Okay, maybe I'm exagerating a little, ... about the emotions not the pictures.)

So I look around for inspiration, in real time, and discover that there are mornings, er make that afternoons, where the breakfast dishes meet up with the remains of last night's babyfood making fest, and they all hang out together on the counter until well into naptime when I can finally carve out some time to tackle them.

There are raisins, where raisins are not supposed to be.  And ants, marching in perfect form, along the playroom wall, behind the shelf, under the table, around the toy chest, and up into the toy truck ... to eat them.

The harvest colored tablecloth that was originally laid out as a seasonal decoration tends to get more use as a peek-a-boo prop.  And the pillar candles are loaded with knicks from a certain someone who thinks they were made for rolling off the table, onto the chairs and onto the floor.

The furniture is dusty enough to communicate on.  And then the landlord calls to say he's stopping by from Alaska to check out the roof and you figure now would be a good time to listen to what the coffee table has to say.

There are piles of laundry waiting to be folded.  Piles so high I lose my kids in them.  I put them on the bed to remind me to fold them at the end of the night.  But when that time comes I find myself with only enough energy to put them back on the floor again so I can go to bed.  The process repeats itself the next day.

I rarely stick to the menu plan that I so proudly hang on the wall each Sunday evening.  We usually get about half the meals right, and then save the rest until the following week, or two weeks.  But I will continue to create full menu plans each and every Sunday because it makes me feel useful.

And, quite possibly the worst, most guilt-inducing of them all ... I still let my 2 year old use a pacifier for bedtime. 

Ugh.  I want to kick myself for this one but I have to pick my battles, and I have more than enough other ones to choose from right now.  Plus I just don't have the heart to take them away when he obviously loves them so much.  And I say "them" because there are two.  There must be two.  Otherwise he will be very unhappy.  Otherwise how else could he switch out the first binky with a cool, fresh one every 5 minutes. 

The rule is "Binkies are for bedtime."  We enforce this rule by putting the binkies in the top drawer immediately after he gets up and don't get them down again until he goes back into bed.  This has resulted in two things: (1) Jack will often ask to go to bed randomly throughout the day with the simple intention of getting some quality binky time and (2) Jack has learned how to balance his husky-self on the end of his bed, pull open the top drawer, and retrieve the binkies.   Jon and I are currently discussing buying Jack a combination safe for Christmas.

So there you have it.  Truth telling.  Reality blogging.  It's nice having goals to strive for, but I also think it's important to be honest with the process.  And life is still good when it's not going perfectly.  I am learning that even a dirty glass can still be half-full!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Ahhh, seven months.  I just love this age.  I think Jude does too, his belly laughs fill our home all day long.  He's taking in the world and trying his hardest to participate in our daily routines.  He's determined to drink out of Mommy's water bottle, pull his brother's hair, and join us at the dinner table.

As a baby, Jack was known as an excellent eater, so Jude has got some "big" shoes to fill.  But he's surprisingly holding his own.  He's done great with the solids we've started so far.  Although he's not consuming as nearly much as his older brother did at this age, so far he hasn't rejected any of the new flavors.  In fact, he's pretty excited when he sees the bowl and spoon come out.  And I've caught him attempting to spoon some food into his mouth all by himself when I've walked away.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn't have to fight through Jude's hands to get to his mouth, likewith  my firstborn.  My clearest memories of feeding Jack are of using one hand to hold the spoon and the other to keep his hands out of his mouth.  Jude on the other hand just sits there, hands out in front of him, opening and closing his mouth on cue, signaling he's finished by blowing raspberries... and food.  So I wasn't even thinking of the consequences when I decided to forgo the highchair tray the other day when I was in a hurry to get dinner started.  Big mistake.  How silly of me to forget how much my youngest son enjoys inserting his foot into his mouth.  Unfortunately, even sweet potatoes can't compete with the fuzzy taste of cotton. 

Up until yesterday, Jude was still not sitting up on his own yet.  He could stay up for a only few seconds before toppling over, or he would generally start to slowly fall forward until, you guesssed it, he's got his toes to his nose.  But that was yesterday.  Today I was telling all the other moms at our playdate about how my 7 month old wasn't sitting up on his own yet, and I decided to demonstrate by sitting Jude down on the floor.  He smiled, bobbed his head up and down a few times, and then proceeded to sit there ... and sit there and sit there, occasionally reaching for a new toy.  Apparently he knew his reputation was on the line and decided to prove Mommy wrong.

Clutching his blanket for support.
While we're up here, I should point out that Jude has what Wikipedia calls a "double cowlick with two counter-clockwise rotating spirals."

Lovin' the new vantage point.

Daddy walks into the room ... and gives Jude an exuberant round of applause.
On a positive note, maybe this means he won't start crawling until later too, and then walking even later as well.  If nothing else, perhaps the fact that he's not growing up too fast will help stave off baby fever.  That and the fact that I'd kind of like to enjoy next summer as neither pregnant nor nursing.  And the fact that our totally cool friends have invited us to visit them in the Cayman Islands next year, and the fact I just learned that pregnant women can't swim with the dolphins ... And if that isn't motivation enough the thought of "3 under 3" most certainly is!  So yes Jude, feel free to stay Mommy's baby for as long as you need to!

Monday, November 15, 2010

GUEST POST: A day in her slippers

I'm so excited to introduce our first guest poster, my Handsome Coastie! Here's his take on 24 hours as a single parent.

A Day in Her Slippers ... well kind of

Janine and family have been bugging me to write a ‘guest’ post on the blog for some time. After spending a day or so in her slippers, I felt I could now do a post justice 'cause who wants to hear about my day in the office or at school. This post expounds upon 8-9 November, which is better known as "The Big-Boy Time."

Timing was everything; last week just so happened to be in between semesters for me. After having completed finals the previous week, I was ecstatic at the prospect of doing no school work and hanging out with my oldest for two days. I had big plans for the two of us, which almost panned out. Our agenda included at least one stop at Chick-a-Lay, a little outside time, movie watching, a stop at an indoor playground called "All for Fun, Fun for All", the purchase of a toy, and eating a lot of junk food. Well, mission almost accomplished. We went to Chick-a-Lay twice, we ran around outside, we watched Toy Story 3, we went shopping at Toys 'R Us and got a monster truck toy and some Christmas movies, we ate lots of food, but the big ticket item, "All for Fun, Fun for All" is only open on weekends. Oh well, we made up for it with an extended time in the Chick-a-Lay play area where I hung out with all the moms for the better part of an hour.

Mom left us at dinner time on Monday the 8th and the fun commenced almost immediately. After only a little grilled cheese and some soup, the big boys were still hungry. Chick-a-Lay sounded good. We braved the drive-thru for some chicken goodness. Of course Jack had to get apple juice and the medium fruit cup to go along with his chicken nuggets. We came back home to watch "Tom and Jerry" with our delicious second dinner. The most fun we had was roaring back and forth at each other along with the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) lion previous to each episode. Jack does a really good lion roar. As daylight savings had thrown the big guy off, I let Jack stay up until just after 8:00pm with the hopes that he would sleep later than the 6:00am he pulled that morning.

At 6:15am, Jack was up and ready to go. Unfortunately, I was not as I stayed up after Jack went to bed to watch Iron Man 2. Besides, I wanted Jack to get some additional rest before our big day. ;) Needless to say, we got around after 7:00am. After breakfast, we thoroughly enjoyed watching "Toy Story 3". Jack couldn’t stop staying Woody and I couldn’t stop thinking about the Toy Story on Ice program I watched in the Meadow Lands several years ago. After movie time, we both got cleaned up. I don’t know how Janine does it, but I found myself pleading with Jack from the shower to stop unraveling the toilet paper and destroying my room in general. I could hear the closet door slamming shut and objects falling throughout my shower.

Daddy-Cam: Outside time.
We were now cleaned up and ready to take the town. I figured we would go to "Fun for All, All for Fun" to work up an appetite for some additional Chick-a-Lay. Unfortunately, when we arrived, the place was dark and the sticker on the front door said open only on weekends. BUMMER! I had been playing this place up for Jack all weekend. Besides, what grown up wouldn’t want to jump around on all those inflatable toys with their child? It was still too early for lunch so we went to Toys 'R Us to burn some time and money. After ravaging the Christmas DVD display and coming away with some classics like "Silver and Gold", "Frosty the Snowman," and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", it was off to the toy isle to get Jack a treat. Of course we walked out of the story with a miniature monster truck (Jack is really in to trucks right now).

Daddy-Cam: Playing with his new truck!

It was now off the Chick-a-Lay. If you have ever been to one on a weekday for lunch, you know that it is a mom’s place. I was literally the only man in the joint. I felt as if all the ladies were looking at me with disdain and judging me for not being at work. I wanted to say: "No really, I just have the day off!" After downing some delicious chicken and some apple juice, to the play area we went. Jack conquered the complex for the better part of an hour before I had to drag him away kicking and screaming.

Daddy-Cam: Checking out the local talent.

Daddy-Cam: Conquering the Chick-A-:Lay playplace.

After a good nap and some playing with the new truck, it dawned on me that I had to make dinner. After a quick call to Janine, it was evident she was going to be home by dinner. What does any man do that is in charge of dinner? Oh yeah, I lit that grill and threw some burgers and dogs on. For good measure, I even made Jack some lima beans to make mom happy. Janine and Jude came home to a warm meal on the table and our family was reunited thereby ending "Big-Boy Time."
I hope you enjoyed this very long and detailed synopsis of Jon and Jack’s "Big Boy Time."
Let's have a round of applause for my wonderful hubby, who lovingly gave up a portion of his thesis research week to not only watch Jack, but also to give us all an inside look at "Big Boy Time."  I'm so thankful that he's able and willing to take over the house-running reigns for 24 hours, even if he forgot to tell me there were TWO trips to Chick-A -Lay involved...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Time and Change

Or just time changes, like the latest DST adjustment which has really been kicking some diaper-clad hiney in our house this week.  Monday was the worst.  In addition to being straight-up overtiredly cranky, both boys were surfing some major emotional waves.  At one point, in the midst of two weepy, snotting, hold-me-mommy little men, I thought I was having a vision of what it's like to raise teenage girls.  Seriously, who knew getting an hour or two less of sleep at night could produce such hormonal changes!  Thankfully, Jude has at least got the memo ... Jack's getting close, but for now he's enjoying 30 minutes of "playtime" in his bed until it's time to get up.  And yes, we too are shocked that our adventurous little guy has yet to try to get out of his big boy bed on his own, I haven't even had to make it a point to stay there in the first place, so don't ask me for any tips, I have no idea!!

But that's not the only change in time we've had around here.  Jude recently shifted to a 4-hour schedule.  Jack didn't do this until after 7 months, but after a week or so where Jude wasn't really interested in nursing this seemed to be the next step.  And it's definitely been a good thing.  Not only is the extra hour between feedings nice for me, but since he's now able to manage a 2 hour waketime, his naps have greatly improved.  Forty-five minutes are now the exception (except for the short evening one) and 1.5-2 hour naps RULE!  He's always been a happy baby but he seems much more well-rested now, to my great relief.  He goes down to bed happy, wakes up happy, and sleeps 7pm-7am.  I still do a dreamfeed before I go to bed, even though he'd easily be fine without it.  But I'm just not comfortable going 13 hours without nursing.  Besides, he's such a little guy, the calories are good for him!  I was starting to worry that he wasn't going to be the same great sleeper that is his older brother, but perhaps he's out to prove me wrong after all.

Oh and one more big change in our house this week - Jon watched Jack all on his own for 24 hours!  Jude and I took a mini road-trip to Virginia Beach on Monday night so I could make an appearance at work.  Our fabulous friend Janine put us up for the night and watched the baby while I was in a meeting.  Jude made his rounds on-campus, had lunch with my co-workers and then we hit the road before rush hour.  Apparently Jon and Jack had a fun-filled day watching Toy Story 3, visiting Toys 'R Us and eating at "Chick-a-Lay" (because that's how we say it now, we're those horrible parents that reinforce their child's mispronunciations just because they're so dang cute!!).  I'm glad the big boys had a successful time together, I just hope Jack doesn't expect such royal treatmeant from me!

Jude did pretty well on the drive.  On the way down I realized that I had never driven so far by myself with a baby before.  We went down at night so he'd be sleeping most of the way, of course, he decided he was ready to eat right when we were driving through no-man's land Virginia.  No lights, no turn-offs, not even a shoulder to pull off on.  But once fed he happily slept the rest of the way.  The trip home did not fare so well, but even one stop, two pull-overs and the last 10 miles with an unhappy vocal baby weren't TOO bad.  Just not fantastic enough to make me want to jump in the car and do it again.

It was nice to be back in the office, it was almost as if I had never left.  In fact, driving into the city the night before felt just like I was coming home again.  And then I remembered that our Beach Nest wasn't ours anymore, and that some other girl was living there and it probably didn't even look the same.  And I gotta admit, that part of the trip made me a little sad.  Both Jon and I are starting to realize all the things we loved and miss about Virginia Beach, now that we don't have them anymore and now that we're starting to grow anxious over our upcoming relocation orders.  For heaven's sake, just rip the band-aid off and tell us where we'll be living in 8 months!!

But on a positive note, there is one thing the Beach didn't have.  And that is this work of art growing in the backyard. 

Or the golden-hued light that filters through its leaves and spills in to my kitchen. 

Or the huge piles of crackly leaves that my son just can't get enough of.  Or images of my husband and firstborn playing soccer in the front yard.  And most importantly, this week Virginia Beach did not have a beautiful, curious 2 year old, excited to see his mommy after she was away for a whole 24 hours nor did it have a handsome Coastie, who willingly makes so many sacrifices for the love of his country and who I'm so proud to call "husband" on this Veteran's Day.  And it's these guys, and my trusty road-traveling sidekick, that make Maryland our home.  They are, and always will be, the best part of where we live, wherever that may be!
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