Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First day of school fail

Well, we did it.  We enrolled Jack in preschool.  Weeks after submitting the paperwork and paying the deposit I'm still having doubts.  I never meant to put my kids in school this early.  Then again, I never meant to have 3 kids under 3.  I just hate the idea of sending him out into the world on his own, I much prefer to keep him by my side for a few more years and under my influence.  And I hate that I'm paying money for someone else to teach my son stuff that I actually know.  I mean Trigonometry is one thing, but the alphabet?  I think I could swing that.  But alas, the mama with a M.Ed. degree is relying on some Miss Maddy to handle her child's education. 

 
So why are we doing it?  Well, I could use the lighter load three mornings a week for one.  I'll admit it, I'm overwhelmed these days.  Trying to keep up with my job, housework, a boisterous almost 3-year-old and his growingly active/curious/testing-his-limits 16 month old brother, all with a big belly and a baby due in just a few weeks.  I'm coming to terms with the fact that I can't do it all.  Something's got to give.  No, many things have got to give.  And I also am learning that Jack is not like me.  We have very different personalities.  While I am more than content being a homebody - finding a quiet nook to read a good book, putsing around the kitchen with a new recipe, testing out another project on the sewing machine - my son wants to see the world.  He wants to make friends and learn new things.  He wants to test out his new sneakers on a new playground, master every puzzle he can get his hands on, learn how to play tag and count to 10 in the right order.  He's craving a new adventure.  And with sister on the way, I figure preschool is the best we can do right now.

 
So I'm stuggling.  But I'll go with the flow and play the part of excited mom.  Because honestly, I'm a little of that too.  So Sunday night I brought up school (for the first time since we've learned not to announce things too early).  We emptied the legos out of his Thomas the Train backpack and filled it up with essentials (in this case, a change of clothes and a few spare pairs of underwear).  I laid out his "first day of school" outfit.  We prayed for Jack's big morning before going to bed that night and talked about all the new friends he was going to make.

 
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And then I made sure I was up extra early the next morning to make homemade apple/oat muffins and smoothies.  I wanted Jack to be fully-charged for his big day.  He remembered as soon as he got up and couldn't wait to put on his school shirt.  And his sneakers.  And we took pictures, and I got properly stern when I realized we were running behind schedule.  And then Jude had a blow-out and that really set us back.  But somehow we managed to get in the car and pulled into the church's parking lot with not a minute to spare.

 


 
And then I realized the parking lot was a bit too quiet and empty for a preschool.  And then I saw the little white sign on the door announcing that school was closed since the County district was closed.  Oh. Snap.

 
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How do you explain to a not-quite-3-year-old that it was all just a game?  How do you help him understand that yes, 30 seconds ago you were going to school to make friends but now, well now we're just going to go home instead?  Not a good mom moment.  I checked the school website the day before but it was down, and I meant to check it again before I left, but forgot.  I had no idea that several areas of our county were still without power or that so many roads were closed.  I was just trying to get my preschooler ready for his big day. 

 
Pulling out of the parking lot, I struggled for a good recovery act.  My office was closed for the day, so techincally I had the morning wide-open (other than all the things I was planning on accomplishing with only one child under-wing that a.m.).  So I quickly suggested the park.  That brought cheers from the backseat and off we went in search of some swings and slides.

 
Am I the only mom that gets extremely nervous at public playgrounds?  As in, I get contractions just thinking about it.  Because no matter how hard I'm trying to keep track of Jack, no matter how the amount of times we've rehearsed "Be nice to others" on the way there, no matter how old or young the other kids around are ... there's always an incident and Jack's usually invovled.  We've got a great playground in our backyard, and Jack has a cutie little playmate named Jude and that suits me just fine.  So I tend to avoid public playgrounds like the plague these days.  But today was special, I had to make it up to the little guy.

 
And when Jack got a little too excited around a much younger girl and almost knocked her over while trying to get to the slide, and when the little girl's grandma assured me it was no big deal - "She's tough," I cringed on the inside.  It's always the ones that say 'it's okay ... she's used to it" that end up giving me the look 5 minutes later and leaving the park early.

 
And so of course, within 10 minutes Jack accidentally stepped on the poor little girl's hand while trying to climb the ladder to the slide.  And of course the wee thing was hysterical and grandma could not calm her down.  And of course I had to go through the whole, "I'm so sorry" and make Jack say he's sorry but don't give her a hug because that will just scare her more ...  And then I feel like I need to punish my child to make the other parent understand that I truly am sorry, but really, it was an accident.  Babies that are too young to climb slide stairs shouldn't not be hanging out on them.  I digress.

 
So that clan left early and Jack was left with the kids in bike helmets.  Who were really fun.  Too bad their mom kept yelling at them for every.little.thing.  "Aiden, stop jumping on the stairs." "Aiden, no hitting." (They were playing tag for heaven's sake!) "Aiden, don't let other kids treat you that way." "Aiden, don't step on the mulch."  "Aiden, don't have any fun, just sit here next to me for 5 minutes."  *sigh*  Poor Jack was so cofused.  Just when he and his new buddy were having fun, new buddy's mom had to go and ruin it.  And from my perspective, it's such an awkward mommy situation.  If "the other mom" scolds her child for walking up the slide backwards, does that mean I have to say the same thing to Jack?  (Seriously, I have so many other balls in the air with this child, walking up the slide just isn't on my radar.)  So here I am, trying to keep up with "other mom's" lectures while also making sure my younger son isn't walking in front of a swinging child or attempting to go down the slide by himself...

 
Eventually poor Aiden had his last time out and that group headed for home.  And right about that time two much bigger kids arrived.  Now normally I'm relieved with older kids.  Jack seems to do better with them, and I don't have to worry about him trying to be the dominant one.  But these kids were on roller skates.  Yup, their mama was sitting right there, letting them cruise *uncontrollably* around the playground and slide, on roller skates.  With little babies around.  Commence more contractions.  But Jack was thoroughly enjoying watching them skate down the slide.  His laughter set me at ease and I was able to relax a little and actually pay Jude some attention. 

 
But then "older kid on skates" slipped (gosh, really, how does that happen??) at the top of the playset and got his legs all twisted and couldn't get up.  And apparently Jack stepped on him at this point.  And "older kid on skates" had a major meltdown.  I'm guessing this boy was around 8.  He had many, many years on Jack.  But it just so happens, my toddler got the best of him.  And I'll confess here, I didn't even make Jack apologize.  I didn't see what happened, and "kid on skates" had already put both of my boys' lives in danger on several occasions prior.  At that point, I was just ready to get out of there.  Jack and Jude were not of the same mind.

 
Silly me, I thought that being 8 months pregnant and carrying two kicking, screaming boys out of the park to the car was going to be the lowest point of my day.  Oh no, apparently I still had to look forward to:
  • Jack refusing to get out of the car once we were home
  • Jude throwing my favorite mug (a wedding gift from friends in England) on the floor and watching it shatter
  • Jude dumping the box of macaroni all over the kitchen (twice)
  • Jude pulling the carton of eggs off the counter
  • Burning lunch
  • Jack going through about 20 pair of underwear/shorts
  • Jack playing in his bed for 2 hours instead of taking a nap
  • Opening the freezer to find everything melted - apparently our freezer is now broken
  • Jude pinching his finger in the door
  • Jude falling down the steps
  • Jack attacking his brother on several occasions
  • Jude running from the backyard, to the front yard, across the street and down to the neighbors driveway ... all before my pregnant, running self could catch up to him
  • Jon working late

 By the time hubby walked in the door after 6:00 I was miserable and completely at the end of my rope.  So I immediately jumped at his suggestion for a post-dinner family walk.  After chasing down boys and shoes we finally got everyone settled in the stroller and out the door ... and then we realized Jude had pooped.  Once we got everyone re-situated and started on our stroll, the rest of the walk was uneventful.  And for that I'm grateful.

 
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Anyway, back to what this post is really about.  Jack had his second attempt at a first day of school this morning and all went well.  I tried not to talk about it too much just in case we were in for another disappointment.  He was too excited to stand still for a picture, we were on time, there were cars in the parking lot and other mama's holding their little ones' hands, Jack properly impressed his teachers with his cuteness, and he gave his Mama a big hug and then went off to play without any tears.  And Jack didn't cry either. :)  Of course, after I got out to the car I realized all the things I should have said: how we're working on being a good listener - the first time, how he needs to be reminded to be kind to to others (all the time), how he generally has "to go poop" right around 10am, maybe suggest they dilute his apple juice so he's not getting all that sugar ... you know, pertinent mom stuff.  It's probably a good thing I was too overwhelmed to remember my list.  The important thing is, I got my oldest off to his first day of school without a hitch (well at least the second time around) and I can officially cross that milestone off the Mommy List.  We're makin' progress!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

How the rest of us do Grandy Camp

So the question on everyone's mind is, "Janine, what did you do while Jack was away?!"  Well, let's see.  I made big plans... and then remembered it was my busiest work week of the year, and I that have an extremely curious 16 month old who constantly rearranges my cupboards and shelves.  So, while I did get a lot done, I don't find "keeping up with work emails" and "replacing the pots and pans several times a day" worth mentioning.  But it still was a very good week in other respects.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let's go back to the beginning, when we dropped Jack off at Grandy Camp.

Jon and I wanted to fit one more Pennsylvania trip in before the baby made its arrival.  When we found out Poppie's work was having their company picnic at Knoebels one Sunday in August, we knew that was the weekend to go!  But when we saw the upcoming forecast, we almost changed our minds.  We're still busy trying to do things around the house, and Jon just had two weeks of travel in a row.  It didn't seem worth it to make the long drive just for 48 hours of clouds and rain.  But we'd already made plans to leave Jack with Marmie and Poppa, and I had already scheduled a hair appointment.  And I desperately needed to renew my driver's license since I had forgotten it expired a few months ago.  So we went.  And I'm glad we did, because it was a most pleasant weekend.

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Saturday was cool and cloudy, but no rain.  It was so peaceful and serene in the mountains, just one of the reasons I love to come home for visits.  It was also a very productive day - new driver's license, new hair cut, Jack got new school sneakers, the boys took a nap on the way to my parents' and then I had the wonderful opportunity of going through all the boxes of my stuff that I conveniently had left behind at their house for the past 5 years.  Yes, now that Marmie and Poppa are retired they are going through major purge mode.  Almost like "nesting."  Or "empty nesting" rather.  They cleaned out their rooms, closets and attics and made piles for each of the kids to go through.  And that was my chore the other Saturday.  But the experience itself was so interesting I believe I'll save it for another post.

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Reliving our dating years at Knoebels!

Knoebels was slated for the next day.  According to the weather app on my phone, there was a 90% chance of rain every hour that day.  So Nonnie and Poppie prayed for clear skies and a dry path through the storm.  And that is exactly what happened.  Despite my phone continuing to call for storms the entire time we were there, after an initial downpour during lunch under the pavilion, it didn't rain the rest of the day.  I literally watched the storm on the radar, raging on either side of us (if you don't have the Weatherbug app I highly recommend it).  And as any seasoned amusement park attendee knows, the best days to go are the ones in which it's supposed to rain, but never does.  It was cool, mild and there were no crowds.  Definitely one of my favorite Knoebels days, and I wasn't even allowed to ride a rollercoaster!

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I guess I've officially reached the point where I don't have to do the thrill rides to have fun anymore.  I just get a kick out of watching my kids have a good time. And did they ever!

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Even Jude got to participate.

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And the nice thing about having kids is you have a reasonable excuse to ride those old rides that you haven't been on in years.  Yes, Jon was really excited to get back in touch with his former childhood.

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And Poppa too of course.

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And this guy ... so brave!

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We're trying to teach him the "thumbs up' sign here.

I loved watching him have fun!

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I think the guy on the left did too.

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Knoebels isn't just about the rides.  Or even the food, although I did enjoy my fair share of THAT.  There's some great entertainment too.  Sadly we missed the kids' show at the castle (where they dress up and act out what the creepy narrator is telling them to do).  I was slightly put-out, because I knew my nephew Alex does not disappoint when it comes to play-acting and figured Jack would enjoy it too.  But Nonnie saved the day and she, Alex and Jack had their own little show ... until a voice booming over the speaker asked them to stop and please return the costumes to the chest.

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So we spent our Sunday at Knoebels, kept extending our time of departure, and then finally gave into the tired whines and sore feet. 

It was time to say goodbye to Jack.  I wasn't sure if he would understand what was going on.  I tried explaining to him earlier that weekend/day that he would be going to Marmie and Poppa's all by himself!  So when we transferred his carseat to their car he crawled right in, gave me a wave and said "I go in the blue car!"  It was too easy.  I definitely had a harder time saying goodbye.  And the ride back to Maryland felt so strange with only one child in the back.  I would say "quiet" but that was not the case, at least for the first hour.  Jude did enough talking to make up for his brothers absence.  Jon and I were trying to enjoy a nice quiet ride through the mountains at dusk ... and our reverie was constantly interrupted by "uh-oh, blah blah blah" or "nuh nuh go", "ahhh ma ma ma ma."  Finally, one hour and a handful of binkies later, he succombed to sleep and the hubs and I had a lovely, peaceful rest-of-the-trip home. 



We left Jack's Grandy Camp experience open-ended.  Marmie and Poppa were willing to drive him home at a moment's notice if needed.  But as I mentioned before, Jack had a great time and was a model camper.  I'm sure his grandparents would have kept him longer if his silly mother would have stopped calling and checking on him several times a day. 
Jon was traveling for work that week, so it was just Jude and I at home.  And to answer everyone's question:  Yes, it was quieter in the house.  But not that quiet, at least not with Chatty Charles around.  And while the den stayed much more neat and organized than usual, the rest of the house was a disaster area.  And I just let it go.  That's the beauty of having a week to yourself (and your 16 month old).  I didn't do dishes unless I felt like it.  I didn't put much effort into cooking since Jude was more than happy to live off crackers and raisins.  And I was under no pressure to shower, do hair, make-up or even change my clothes.  Ah, staycation!

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I really missed Jack.  But it was a good, healthy miss.  And I only cried once.  I told Jude it was time for a nap so he went to Jack's room, picked out three books, threw them up on Jack's bed and then made every effort to swing his chubby little leg up there as well.  And so we read our three pre-nap books in Jack's bed and I choked through all the words because I was missing him so much.  But other than that one incident I did quite well. And I'm so proud of my boy for spending 5 nights by himself at his grandparents without major mishap.

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My big "helper."

Oddly enough, other than work and some fun nursery projects, the only other thing Jude and I did was run errands.  It sounds strange but I rarely venture out during the day when it's just me and the two little dudes.  It's just too much work.  But since I only had one this particular week, well I was feeling adventurous.  Post office, farmer's market, fabric store and hey, let's just grab lunch at Chipotle while we're out.  It was a fun treat, and a good reminder of just how easy the bygone days of parenting only one child were.  If only I had known then what I know now ...

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The sky is falling! ... actually he's pointing out an airplane.

And I completely enjoyed my one-on-one time with Mister Jude.  He's a special little guy and really coming into his personality at this stage.  I think I forgot how much I love this age (15-16 months).  He's learning so much at this point and communicating more and more.  He's also becoming more independent.  He's walking further and further from me, heading off to the end of the yard all by himself, trailing down the beach solo, running out the front door and straight for the road because he knows it will make Mommy yell and flail her arms ...

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Jude wants to know why this thing didn't come with a footrest.

The poor things is also working on his canines.  It's the last four teeth we have left, and they've been killing us both for the past two weeks.  During Grandy Camp Jude was up in the night, up early in the morning, had nasty poop diapers 5 times a day and was suffering from the worst diaper rash I've seen on one of my kids yet.  Which meant diaper changes were a miserable experience for the both of us, plenty of tears on all sides.  Thankfully, although his teeth still haven't broken through yet, night wakings have diminished and the diaper rash is almost gone.  Jude has been my most challenging teether, I'm eager to put this phase behind us!

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Yes, there is a bug on his forehead ... if only I had time to Photoshop it out.

While Jack was gone I rediscovered my love for walks.  And Jude was an eager companion.  I'm still trying to figure out our neighborhood and the best (and least hilly) places to walk.  Not only has it been a hot summer but it's no small chore pushing a 70-something pound double stroller around with a pregnant belly.  The heat and effort took all the fun out of one of my favorite activities.  But since I'm nearing the end of this pregnancy, and I'm fully aware of the benefits of walking at this stage, I'm re-motivated to get out and enjoy the end of summer (and look at all the pretty houses in our new neighborhood).  And I was more than happy to explore with Jude in the jogging stroller.  I love this thing and unfortunately it doesn't get used enough anymore with two kids around!  Jude had so much fun he's made grabbing his shoes and heading for the door a daily habit.

It was a precious time with my youngest, soon-to-be-middle child.  But now the other men in our life are home and we're happy to have them back.  We don't have much time left as a family of four and we're making the most of these final weeks of not being outnumbered!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Grandy Camp 2011

Grandy Camp is something that's been under discussion since we first found out we were pregnant with Jack.  Both Jon and I love our home state and all the simple pleasures it has to offer.  Since we probably won't be raising our children there like I used to dream we would, the least we can do is send them to the grandparents' for a week each summer to experience a piece of a childhood like their mom and dad's.  My parents were totally on board with our plan, we've been tossing ideas back and forth over the past 3 years.  But one stipulation has remained - all Grandy Camp attendees must be potty-trained.  Well, Marmie and Poppa's newly retired state has left them with some extra time on their hands and they've been missing their Jack-Jack.  So they made an exception and welcomed my partially-trained firstborn for a week of toddler bliss in the mountains of Pennsylvania.

Naturally, I was a bit nervous.  Jack and I have never been apart for more than two nights, and that was when I was in the hospital having Jude.  I knew I'd miss him like crazy.  But I'm a big girl and can handle my emotions.  I really didn't know what to expect from him.  I was afraid that he'd either get homesick and not last more than two days or that he'd have so much fun, he'd forget about the rest of us and not want to come back.  Much to my relief, neither happened.  Jack had a momentous 5 days with his Marmie and Poppa (that was my limit, I needed my boy back!).  And, like any dutiful son, kept his Mama apprised of his daily activities (thanks Marmie!):

Sunday, August 14, 2011
Dear Mommy and Daddy,
I had a great tubby time. Then Marmie read my favorite truck book. She turned off the light at 9:11 and I am sleeping peacefully in the gray room. After Marmie left the room she heard me say on the monitor: "Marmie I hear lots of crickets!" I will write more tomorrow.  P.S. The rain gauge said we had 2 inches of rain today!
Love, Jack


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Looking at cows at the Dewart Animal Auction.


Monday, August 15, 2011
Dear Mommy and Daddy,
I had a great sleep. Got up at 7:56 and talked a little to myself. Then we went to the potty and changed my clothes before breakfast. I sat on my turtle seat and ate one pancake and half a peach with a cup of diluted juice. I reminded Marmie about my vitamins. Then I announced I had to do a BIG poop. Marmie wanted to take a picture because she thinks it may have been a Guiness record! I brought down my little vacuum and ran it on Marmie's rug and Poppa and I put together one of my new puzzles that was supposed to be my birthday present (Marmie caved in and gave it to me early :) ).  Now we are on our way to the Dewart animal auction with the camera since it is raining here and we cannot go fishing or to the park. I will write more later, when I can fit it in my schedule.
P.S. You wouldn't believe how fast the garbage truck zoomed right by Marmie and Poppa's house without stopping! Country life is sooo different...
Love, Jack


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Mid-morning stop at McDonald's Play Place.


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Chocolate milk and cinnamon rolls!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Dear Mommy and Daddy,
As we were getting ready for a day trip to Ag Progress Days near State College, Marmie decided to run upstairs for "just a minute" when I yelled to her, "Uh-oh Marmie, Jack make a mess." Marmie assumed I spilled something on her fairly new couch and came running down the steps to see thousands of little white styrofoam balls all over. I had decided to see what makes the laptop "pillow" so soft!!! And out of my little "peek" hole spilled the stuffing. Soooo I got to run the sweeper... which really wasn't much of a punishment and Marmie turned off my favorite pirate show. The rest of the day I was a perfect angel. (See a little vacuuming can bring out the best in any man - no matter how small!!)
Love, Jack


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Ag Progress Days

Tuesday, August 16, 2011 (part II)
Dear Mommy and Daddy,
We have been very busy here at Grandy Camp. We spent almost four hours at Ag Progress Days near State College. I really liked climbing up on the big machines and pretending to drive them. A big man gave me a free cap to wear too. I turned it backwards "just like Daddy" does. Marmie and Poppa and I went through a corn maze. They let me be the leader. I liked saying "go left, go right" and wore my hat to keep the sun out of my eyes. We saw so many cows and huge horses. One lady opened her horse's pen and he came over to my stroller so I could pet him, but I put on my scared-to-death face! We had little cups of delicious chocolate milk and some yummy corn-on-the-cob. I even got a green balloon. Poppa said the pirates gave it back from when we were in Annapolis! 

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I tried to keep awake, but when Marmie lowered my stroller seat back, I was out for over an hour. Poppa picked me up and put me in my carseat and I just kept right on sleeping in the nice air conditioning. After I ate a big supper, we all went for a bike ride to a nice playground near where Everett lives. I really loved the diggers and turning the gears to make little metal balls move inside a see-through box.

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You should have seen me walk across the giant rope bridge just like a pirate! I'd rather go UP the slides than slide down them too! We went for ice cream next and I had a baby cotton candy cone. Can you guess what I did to the bottom of the cone? Of course I had a tubby and read my favorite truck book before I went to bed.
Love, Jack




Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Dear Mommy and Daddy,
We decided to take a Beach Day and went to our closest beach ...Half-Way Dam, alias R.B. Winter State Park. I was expecting waves, but loved the water even though it is always a hair above freezing to Marmie! I was a little inventer, using a funnel stuck in the holes of a whiffle ball to be my "ball catcher" when Poppa and I played "Keep Away." Marmie loves my laugh!

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Soon Poppa had a little girl named Brooklyn join us. She was so good with us and we all played for about 45 minutes. I tripped a couple of times but just got right back up and never cried. I spent a long time just hauling buckets of water up to a hole Poppa made. Then I dumped each bucket and missed most of the hole. Then I would jump in the mud puddle... over and over again.

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I also took the plastic spike from the horseshoe game and pretended it was a giant pencil and would stick it under the water and write messges. Marmie could hear me telling the story as I wrote. She said it was adorable! At one point I even shared two of my sand buckets with a family that had nothing to play with. I handed them over and said "thank you." I ate and ate and really liked Great Uncle Carl's sweet pickles!

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When it was nap time, Marmie made a little tent with a beach chair and beach towels over a quilt. I was sound asleep in minutes. That gave Poppa and Marmie time to play 500 Rummy and 21... Marmie won big time! Marmie said as they sat there enjoying the peace and quiet, they both realized just how blessed they are... She said "Life is good!"


The beach should really be renamed "Grandy Beach", because almost every kid was with a grandparent!! We headed home after I slept for almost 2 hours. I took a Big Boy shower and we were off to Nonnie and Poppie's for their small group picnic. We sat at a table for four with a new couple and they were so impressed with how well I ate. I had seconds on Kaelie's macaroni and cheese and really liked the Rosa Marina Marmie made. I was so proud of my turtle seat that we took along and somehow managed to not get any food on me the whole meal. (Marmie has been puting one of her smaller aprons around me at breakfast just to keep my clothes clean. Twice she took a paper towel and ripped a v-neck on it and then taped it on me and told me I couldn't take it off.) Aunt Rachel stopped by and I played with Tyler, Ryley, Ethan and Alex on the Gator all night. We left at 8:30 and I fell asleep at 9:00 and woke up at 8:00. It was the best Grandy Camp Day so far!
Love, Jack

Thursday, August 18, 2011
Dear Mommy and Daddy,
We just had to get a fishing trip in...

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So I put on my dinosaur boots and Gone Fishin' shirt and we headed off to Great Uncle Bill's pond. It was another perfect day. The skies were crystal clear and there were butterflies all over the fields. Good thing we took our new bug catcher along and Marmie's butterfly house! The pond is nestled way back in the fields. I had such a good time reeling in the blue gills and sunnies.

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I caught over twenty fish! I out-fished Poppa who kept busy taking the fish off my hook (since Marmie forgot her fish-glove!) Then I got brave and even held up a worm for the camera, but only after Poppa broke it in two so it was not so BIG! We fished for three hours with lunch under the canopy Bill built. It is really nice there.

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I even got to reel in a big bass that Poppa hooked. Marmie said it was so cute seeing me with an adult-sized rod instead of the little ice-fishing rod I usually use. I kept backing up instead of reeling.
At one point Marmie mentioned, "Gee these fish must be really hungry."  So I pulled off a big blade of grass and when I caught the next fish, I tried to feed it the grass so it wouldn't be so hungry!

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We managed to catch three butterflies, even though the dollar store was out of butterfly nets. These butterflies just landed on you and you could scoop them up. I loved the little bug catcher house Marmie and Poppa got me, and especially the bug-picker-upper thing that looks like a pair of scissors but with litle cups at the ends. Definately not the best way to catch a butterfly but it kept me occupied for quite a while! After naptime today, Poppa wants to turn the sprinkler on the trampoline.
Tonight is Uncle Matt's birthday party and tomorrow we hit the road early. See you after lunchtime!
Love, Jack

Jack was an excellent road traveler for his grandparents, he read books the entire way home!  Jude and I were SO excited to see him when he pulled in the driveway.  He jumped out of his seat, ran into my arms and said "Mommy, I home ... I missed you so, so much!"  And he's been saying the same thing at least once a day ever since!  Marmie and Poppa reported that he was a very good boy and everyone seemed to enjoy the experience all around.  So good on you Jack for earning an invitation back to Grandy Camp next year!  I think we're all looking forward to it, but for now I'm going to hold my oldest a little closer.  I'm convinced he got taller, smarter and more talkative in just 5 short days and I don't want to miss any more of it!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

More belly, less hair

I'm 33.5 weeks pregnant today and baby is about the size of a pineapple.  Just as I guessed, at my 32 week check-up I was told I was measuring two weeks behind, and that was after a lot of pushing and jiggling by the midwife to get the baby into a better position.  She is head-down now, but on a diagonal.  Which makes "measuring" a challenge, and also makes for some weird in-utero sensations - like a lot of activity in my right love-handle.  :)  Despite barely measuring 30 weeks, my midwife said I was right on track for weight gain.  But she also said my glucose test results actually came back on the low side and encouraged me to eat me small meals throughout the day to keep my sugar levels up.  Ugh, it sounds so easy, this whole "eating more" thing but I tell you it's not!  And I'm also finding I'm not as hungry anymore as I used to be.  I attribute that to Baby Girl deflating my poor little stomach.

Anyway, despite the dreary check-up, my belly is still getting bigger.  Thirty-nine and one half inches around to be exact.  In fact, it's officially big enough that Jude can hide under it.  Which would explain why I've been tripping over him so much lately.  He's my "mama's boy", and he loves to shadow me all around the house.  But I just don't see him down there anymore!

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Peek-a-boo, there he is!

Other than the occasional leg cramp, sore back and intermittent heartburn, oh and swollen ankles when I stand in heels at graduations or weddings all day, this pregnancy is going really, really well.  I don't want to say easy, but compared to what I hear from others, I guess that's how I have it.  Even if it does make me feel a bit guilty.  Like today, I met another mama of two boys at our church's picnic.  She's due with a third boy about a month after me and is having her most difficult pregnancy yet.  So when she asks me how I'm feeling, well it just doesn't feel right to say "Oh fantastic, I hardly know I'm carrying a baby!"  Instead, I try to throw in something like "Good, but tired, especially from chasing two little boys," or "So much better now that the morning sickness is over!" or "Well I'd be sleeping great if Jude wasn't teething right now!"  But the truth is, I don't take it for granted, because having an easy pregnancy really is a HUGE blessing when you have two other toddlers.  It is certainly something I regularly thank God for!

But now, for the real point of this post.  While I may have more of a belly these days, I now have less hair.  We were in Pennsylvania the other weekend and I made a last minute phone call to my hairdresser to see if she could squeeze me in for a quick cut.  With the new baby on the way, I explained to her that I didn't know when I'd be getting out of the house again, so "let's go pretty short."  But still long enough to pull back, I added.  She must have been feeling especially sympathetic to my upcoming position because with a few snips of her shears she ensured that I would be able to go without at trim for quite some time.  Presenting, the shortest haircut I've ever had:

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33 weeks, and yes I still have two legs, it just doesn't look like it in this picture!

I just wanted to explain that so ya'll wouldn't think I went out and got the hormonal mom-cut.  I didn't intend to lose that much hair.  But what's been done is done.  And it's not too, too bad.  I cannot pull it back though.  At least, not without a two extra clips holding it all up, but thanks to my pre-natal vitamins, it hopefully won't be long before we reach that point. 

And that's where we are, 4-9 weeks to go!  And that realization has kicked me into gear with the whole "get ready for baby" thing.  Jack was away at "Grandy Camp" last week (more on that in the next post!) and Jon was traveling for work.  So I was able to get a little start on Project Nursery.  It's coming along nicely, and thanks to my recent introduction to Pinterest, I've got plenty of ideas to carry me through the home stretch!  Stay tuned for more on that as well!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Our Story, Part XIII: You Can Guess What Happened Next

Exactly 6 years ago today, I traveled down to Virginia Beach with Jon's parents and his sister, brother-in-law and neice who were in visiting from Israel.  It was a long, cramped drive.  So I was relieved when Jon suggested a walk on the beach as soon as we arrived... just the two of us.  Looking back, that should have seemed odd. He hadn't seen his family in a long time, you'd think he'd want to catch up a little.  But apparently I was in la-la land and just excited about some one-on-one time with my man.  The beach was right across the street, so I started heading for the dune path when Jon stopped me and said we were getting in the car instead and driving down to another beach.  This should have really had me confused, but again, I was just a girl in love with a boy that clearly wanted some alone time with me.  So we drove a few miles down the road to Fort Story and the Cape Henry Lighthouses.

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Jon's first beach house that he shared with 4 other Coasties. i.e. "not a love nest"  We loved the neighborhood so much that two years later we moved into the "Beach Nest" which was located right down the street!
And then we went for a walk down the beach and talked about nothing really important.  In fact, I remember thinking he must have been really tired or distracted or something because conversation was just not flowing.  The beach was pretty though.  There were large mounds of rocks every few hundred feet, beautiful sand dunes, and two gorgeous lighthouses in the backdrop.

Now this is the part where Jon would say "the clouds parted, a ray of light shone down and a mist blew in off the sea."  I don't remember any of that, but I do remember standing there at the water's edge, looking out at the sea with my honey and him turning to me and saying, "Janine, will you marry me?"

And that was it.  He didn't get down on one knee, he didn't lead up to it, and I didn't see him holding a ring so at first I thought maybe he was just making more casual conversation.  And then he brought up his hand, which had, again unbeknownst to me, been fumbling in his pocket for most of our walk, and held out a sparkling diamond.  My gorgeous, hand-picked by my hubby, to die-for ring. 

And I said "Yes!"

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Jon picked this one because the scrolls on each side of the diamond reminded him of ocean waves.

Now I consider myself a pretty intuitive person, and occasionally a bit of a snoop.  It's hard to get surprises past me.  But I did not see this coming.  I really thought that if we got engaged, it wouldn't be for another 6 months or so.  And I'm so glad he was able to pull it off, because I got my true surprise, *gasp* can't-believe-this-just-happened, Barbie moment.

August 21, 2005
Got back to his house and everyone already knew.  I can't believe I missed all the obvious signs.  I really wasn't expecting it this weekend.  Even more crazy - he picked the ring out when he was home in June!  And he called and asked for my parents permission in July!!  I can't believe everyone kept it a secret!!

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Just back from "the beach walk."

We were so, incredibly happy!  Definitely one of the best days of my life.  I couldn't wait to start planning our wedding and discussing our future together now that it was no longer off-limits.  And the ring!  I was so conscious of it.  I know it's just an object but nothing describes how a girl feels about her engagement ring when she first wears it.  I was the giddiest, proudest, fiancee in the world!

August 21, 2005
I dreamed everyone wanted to see my ring and it was really stressful.  Then I woke up and just stared at it.  It's so gorgeous!

The visit went fast.  Jon still had to go into work the next day so we stopped by his boat for a quick tour.  I love the Coastie life, but let's be honest, those sailors just aren't into wedding plans and engagement rings.  I was eager to get back home where people were really interested in all the romantic details! 

August 22, 2005
Can't say I like the boat too much.  Definitely glad I'll be the one staying home.  It's cramped and every little space is filled with something or other a - a little overwhelming.  But now I can picture him at work.  He introduced me as his fiancee all day, it was so strange.  It's a title I'll need to live up to.

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Day 2 of being engaged, pure bliss!
Thankfully I got my wish when we headed up to Williamsburg to visit Jon's aunt and uncle and family.  I got plenty of "ring-gushing" and congratulatory hugs there.

Jon and I rode up to Williamsburg together and it was so much fun.  I could ride for hours in the car with him.  And someday I will.

From there it was time to head home. 

Saying goodbye wasn't too bad.  I only had a few tears in my eyes.  But we did have to do it with everyone else around, and that's not special.

I immediately set to work scoping out churches and reception halls in our area and creating a wedding budget.  Within a few days we settled on the July 15 for the BIG DAY.  We knew it'd be hot and sticky, and that meant 11 months of waiting, but we had to work around 3 different deployments that coming year.  The biggest, a 3-month patrol in the Mediterranean, which would take place April through June.  It was going to be a long year!

Jon was fully-immersed in his new job and about to head out for a few weeks of training.  My summer had officially ended and I was packing up my car for my final semester at college.  I had taken as many credits as I could the previous spring, to catch up from a semester abroad, and then later found out I that if I took a summer class and another full load in the fall, I could graduate a semester early. Now there wasn't any rush to finish school. But since a lot of my friends had graduated the semester before, since I was a committed girl to a guy living several states away, and more importantly, since I wanted to save myself several thousand dollars in tuition, I took a summer class at a local State university. Therefore, I would officially be receiving my Bachelor's in December ... and, except for July 15 and the week after, the rest of my life was a huge blank canvas. Then again, I had no idea how much this simple decision to save some money would impact our future plans!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Pomp and Circumstance (2011)

As many of your know, my Handsome Coastie finished his second Master's degree this summer.  Although we've been celebrating the end of this era for a few weeks now, he just recently had his graduation ceremony.

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Jon's parents joined us for the festivities.  It was a lovely, hot summer day, in a beautiful church about an hour away.  In typical military fashion, the ceremony started at 10am, and we were told to be there by 9am.  And in typical Coastie Family fashion, we were there at 8:45am.  The good news: we had great seats.  The bad news: we had over three hours in pews with our two little tikes.  I thought ahead and packed snacks, drinks, "quiet" toys, puzzle and books.  My kids were tired of the toys, ate all the snacks and spilled their drinks before the first note of the National Anthem sounded. 

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Pre-ceremony lip smacking!


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Pre-ceremony pew slapping.

Once Jack got over the wonder and awe of servicemembers marching in uniforms and flags and music, and we all sat down to speeches, the real work began.  It was also about this time that Jude kept trying to touch the tattoo on the lady in front of us while exclaiming, in his cutest yet loudest baby voice, "Uh-oh, uh-oh!"  So I took the boys to the back foyer where the rest of the parents with kiddos were hanging out.  This was all well and good until Jack started running over the babies and not minding his mama.  Thankfully, Nonnie stepped in at this point to take Jude off my hands and I got to experience dragging a toddler out of church - kicking and screaming. 

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Now we all know where Jack gets his "seriously excited" face from!

We quickly discovered a "reflection garden" with peaceful fountain and breezy-set bench.  I read through the public journal tucked under the bench seat while Jack splashed in the fountain.  Okay, while Jack got thoroughly drenched in the fountain.  When he started re-arranging the actual structure and pumping mechanism, I figured it was best to move one.  So we walked the gardens in an attempt to dry off Jack's clothes.  We were just starting to approach that point when he found yet another fountain to dunk in.  The child knows no moderation.

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Soon the speeches were over and it was time for the actual awarding.  Poppie came to relieve me of my charge so I could watch Hubby receive his degree and rest my poor, pregnant ankles a little.  He brought our small brood back into the sanctuary while they were handing out awards.  Jack ran up to our pew, said "Hi Mama, I back!" and then crawled up next to me.  In a split second, conveniently timed just when the presenters had taken a break from speaking, he stood up next to me, slipped forward, and banged his head on the pew in front of us.  There was silence, a slight gasp from the people sitting around us, a sucking in of air by Jack himself, followed by the wail.  Thankfully, Poppie had scooped Jack up and whisked him back down the aisle by the time the wail was in full force.  But it was still loud enough that Jon, sitting on the other side of the church, turned to his classmates and whispered, "That's my kid."

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Family Portrait Fail.  But this perfectly describes how my boys were feeling at this point.

It was the kind of event where one probably should not have brought small children.  But we did anyway, along with lots of other people.  And it was the kind of event after which one vows to never again attempt bringing small children to anything involving non-Sunday church ceremonies, quiet speeches, long waits, and dressing up...  And then we drove up to New Jersey the next day with our boys to attend Jon's cousin Jackie's wedding. 

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Photo Credit: Nonnie


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Photo Credit: Man holding Nonnie's camera.

The boys were adorable in their ties and vests.  And although I know you shouldn't brag about how little you spend on clothing, I just have to add that I found Jack's entire ensemble on clearance for $6.  Awesome!  Despite the results of the previous day, I yet again assumed that a few toys and snacks would keep my kids quiet during a short wedding ceremony.  Notsomuch.  A few moments before the wedding party was about to walk down the aisle, Jack started racing down the pews and, because kids are so good at being loud during all the quiet moments, Jude began pointing at the candle above our heads and exclaiming yet again, in his cutest yet loudest baby voice, "Uh-oh, uh-oh!"  Things had gone far enough.  I whisked the boys off to the nursery and we watched the rest of the ceremony on closed-circuit TV.

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After some Rita's (right outside the church, best idea ever!) and family pictures we decided a slow, quiet drive to the reception was in order. 

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Somehow "Monkey" managed to fanangle his way into the big Bride's family portrait.

Just as hoped, both boys zonked out by the time we pulled into the parking lot.  Jon and I gave each other silent cheers, leaned the seats back, cranked up the AC, pulled out our books and settled in for a nice little pre-reception quiet time.  Ah, how much life has changed these past 5 years.  Eventually Jon decided he should scope out the hors d'ouvres while I held down the fort.

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After naptime ended, the boys had a nice little romp in the grass and fresh air with their cousins.  And then I realized, you can dress 'em up but you can't take 'em out. 

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Within seconds Jack had found the biggest, baddest stick he could carry and was attempting to go "fishing" or take out a few cousins, or dig in a few mud puddles.  And I'll confess, at this point, I didn't really care.

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While we thought we were being proactive in arriving at the reception early and giving our kids naps and playtime, what we didn't realize that hors d'ourves were scheduled to last 2 hours, that we wouldn't be able to sit at our table until 8pm, or that dinner wouldn't be served until 10pm.  Eek! 

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Barefoot and pregnant, attempting to take photos that involve as little bending and crouching as possible.


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All I wanted was one picture of the handsome cousins all dressed up.  Apparently that was asking a little much of my wee one.  This is the best I got.

Let's just say, we had a LOT of playtime.  We attempted some time in the reception hall, but after chasing kids in and out of the the crowd and watching Jack nearly trip more than one poor lady in heels, we decided to spend the rest of the evening basking by the waterfall. 
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A serene moment by the water.
The littlest cousins had fun wrestling in the grass, throwing rocks and making their way into the background of other people's nice photos.  And then Jon caught Jack taking a swig of cousin Connie's "adult beverage." It was cold and clear, the poor child just thought it was water. Fortunately, he remained unphased.




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Poppie and his grandkids! (minus Ryley and Gabe)


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Nana and Papa and the great-grandkids.  Note our Chicken Little in the middle.


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Getting tossed in the air by Poppie will offset any "shorter than usual" nap day.

By the time we were seated, my preggo ankles had long been protesting an entire day in heels.  And the boys were beyond tired.  So while the rest of the crowd was letting loose out on the dance floor, Jon and I were along the back wall attempting the "sleep sway" with each of our boys.  By the time dinner was served our little guys could barely keep their eyes open.  We shoved a few bites into them, scooped them back up for a quick goodbye to the family, and were out the door before we could catch a glimpse of the cake we were missing out on. 

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And I'll admit, sometimes it stinks.  Being out on the fringes.  Feeling like your whole life is centered around naps, snacks and whatever toy you can scrape out of the bottom of the diaper bag.  But I'm really okay with it.  This is just a phase of our life.  Our kids won't be this much work forever ... and they won't be adorable, sweet little boys forever either.  Lately I've been noticing Mama's that are a decade or two ahead of me.  I see them in church, at graduation ceremonies or weddings, perfectly put together, able to actuallly spend more than a hot second on their hair and make-up, enjoying the moment, kids off doing their own thing.  Honestly, for the first time ever, "mid-life" has its appeal.  I think I'm looking forward to being in my 30s and 40s, but not enough to race there.  Because this age is pretty good too.  And right now my kids don't ask me for money, or video games, or roll their eyes when I tell them to do something.  Instead they put their head on my shoulder when they're tired, they run up to me with their hands in the air when they need a snuggle, and they bop to the music.  So I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts ... and while they still let me capture it on camera.

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