Tuesday, July 31, 2012

This was supposed to be about houseguests

I'm back!  I think.  I hope.  I've sorta misplaced my motivation these past two weeks and I'm struggling to dig deep and draw up a little something fresh and cool and clear.  I'm glad that writing isn't my livelihood because some days .... weeks ... I just don't have it in me.  And some days, every bit of refreshment I can acquire is spent on just plain being a mother.  It's almost August, it's hot, and I'm parched.

Life seems to go in waves right now.  We'll hit a stride and things with the kids go swimmingly.  And then the current changes and it's all we can do to keep our heads above water.  Well that's the kind of week it's been. 

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Jack's been argumentive.  He's talking back, he's more emotional and above all else he's just not mature enough to know how to properly deal with those emotions.  Which has led to more screaming, and fit throwing and tears than we've seen in a long time.  And I'm at a total loss.  How do you teach a 3 year old the  meaning of "respect"?  How do I get him to understand that just because the sounds coming out of your mouth aren't real words, they're still cruel?  How do I let him know that I get what he's feeling, but it's still not okay to act out like that?  But really, those are just the symptoms of a deeper problem, one that I haven't put my finger on yet but that's keeping me up at night.  And yes, I realize much of this is normal at this age.  We have to go through some learning curves, but I still want to get to the bottom of it.  Does he need more one-on-one time?  Does he need more physical activity?  Do we need to start some character education curriculum?  Is it because he's not in school and his little extroverted self is suffering from lack of socialization?

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It could also have something to do with the fact that we're still coming off a cousin high!
But I have to admit, there is a humorous side.  There always is.  And I try to remind myself that if I wasn't me.  If I was a fly on the wall, I'd be dying of laughter most days.  And maybe 20 years from now, I will.  But today, today it's just a little funny and a lot of tough.  Like when Jack gets angry with one of us and calls us a "doodle-doo" or when one of his toys doesn't cooperate and he yells "You numma-doodle!"  It's like toddler swearing.  Or when Jack isn't happy with something I've done or said, he's started responding with, "I don't like it here!  I don't like Maryland!"  Because somehow, deep inside, he knows he has to like his Mama and Daddy and siblings.  But it's not nearly as bad to say he doesn't like the state he's currently living in. 

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And inside I'm thinking, "I know baby, I know... Sometimes I don't like Maryland either.  I miss the beach too.  And I know Nonnie's pool is better than our blow up number, and Poppa jumps with you on the trampoline, and having 4 cousins is way more fun than just one brother, and the little woods at the end of our street isn't nearly as adventurous as the 100 acre woods you've seen on Winnie the Pooh ... but this is our home, this is where God's placed us, and it is what we make it.  But the way you're feeling right now?  I totally get that."

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Now Jude, Jude's got different issues.  He hasn't picked up on toddler swearing or talking back.  When Jude wants to protest he does one of three things: 1.) throws himself protrate on the floor and lies there without saying or doing anything, 2.) head-butts you or, 3.) runs laps around the kitchen, dining, living room while yelling "ahhhh" which is actually sounds more like "ah-ah-ah-ah" because he runs like his mama and everytime his feet smack the floor it shakes the house and cuts off a little of his airflow.  Other than his toddler tantrums Jude's not necessarily bad, he's just being a 2 year old.  And a little boy at that.  From the moment he wakes up until approximately 1 hour after we put him to bed - he's talking.  He likes to ask the same questions over and over and over again.  Usually ones he already knows the answer to, like "Where Daddy go? Where Yaya go? Where [insert name of every person he knows] go?"  The good thing is he sometimes answers them himself: "Daddy go new-car.  Daddy go to werr."

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Jude got a boo-boo and needed a band-aid.  So then Jack proceeded to show me every little cut and scrape on his body and requested a band-aid for each.  Brothers, always competing.
But then there's the other part of being a 2 year old.  That confidence, the "I think I can" attitude that always tends to take things a little too far.  And never at the right moment.  Like last Friday.  We had a houseguest coming and I was desperately trying to get as much cleaning and readying up as I could.  And Jude was trying just as hard to undo all my efforts.  I purposely waited til the last minute to give my kids as little time to mess it all up as possible.  Apparently even the very last minute is too much time.  So I made the guest bed, Jude found a cup, got himself a drink and then accidentally dumped it all over the bed while watching a movie.  I hung the sheets out on the line to dry, it started to rain.  I scrubbed the bathroom during naptime (safe bet, right?).  Jude surprised me with a bonus, late-in-the-day bowel movement, followed by a uglier than usual dismount (we potty AC Slater style, remember?) and I was forced to clean the toilet all over again.  I vacuumed the house while the boys were outside, sat down to nurse the baby, and Jude brought in some mud pies to show me.  So I'm stuck in the chair nursing my nearly-10-month-old.  You know, the age where babies are easily distracted?  The age where if she hears the slightest noise she'll whip her head around mid-sip to see what's up?  Oh yeah, did I mention she has 4 teeth now?  So I'm trying to get his attention in as little disturb-the-baby fashion as possible.  But he doesn't really follow what I'm trying to say with headshakes and eye-blinks.  And within a few moments I've got mud pies land mines dispersed all over my freshly vacuumed living room floor.  I'm *this close* to losing it at this point.  But then I was distracted by Jack, who somehow (I have no idea how!) managed to flip his sister's walker over and she ended up on her head on the floor.  Then Jon called to let me know he was on his way home and in the meantime the boys decided to draw a piece of art for our guest ... on the living room wall.  But wall art isn't even a big deal anymore, especially not when it's preceded by all those other events.  I managed to magic eraser that off in the time it took my husband to get out of his car and walk in the front door.  "Happy Friday honey, here's one sassy 3 year old and one too curious for his own good 2 year old to start off your weekend!  Meanwhile, I'll be calming the baby that just got flipped out of her walker."

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Happier days with Aunt Rachel.
Oh yes, the baby.  My normally sweet-natured, mild-mannered little lady is a hot mess this week.  She's teething and all the glory that comes with it.  Drooling, gnawing, snotting, horrendous diapers, and all-around discomfort.  We had two days of a high-fever.  And one up-every-20-minutes night with her in our bed.  And she just wanted to nurse all.night.long.  Normally I would be happy to oblige but she was doing it with such fervor it was impossible for me to snooze.  (Okay, I know I've went into too much nursing detail twice in one post, I'll stop now.)  Poor thing is just miserable and it's breaking my heart.  I hate teething.  Why does something so normal in one so innocent have to cause so much pain and suffering? 

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Pre-teething: We took her to the dolphin show. She stood on my legs and clapped and squealed (loudly) the entire time.  I think the people in front of us were starting to get a little annoyed.
And then there are us parents.  Jon's been putting in 10-12 hour days.  And he's got a whole calendar full of travel coming up, to all sorts of exotic locations where preschoolers don't yell made up words and toddlers don't misinterpret eye-blink-signals and babies don't teethe.  Meanwhile I have the prospect of handling all that on my own for days on end.  Depending on which way the current flows this next week, I may need to throw in a trip or two to the grandparents' at summer's end. 

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But on the other hand Julia was happy today and much more like herself.
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Oh yeah, definitely more like herself today.
Oh dear.  I just realized I sat down to write a post about our houseguests this past month and ended up with something totally different.  Well, this was much more refreshing.  I'm feeling a little less parched now.  Thanks for listening. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sweet Spot

A significant event ocurred over vacation.  Did you catch it?
Julia turned 9 months.

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Huge people, huge!

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But of course, most of your already know that, as evidenced by the number of messages, emails, texts and calls I've had from friends this month just "checking up."  Really, you all make me smile.

But in case you have no idea what I'm talking about or just need a refresher?  Try hereAnd here.


No, this is not an announcement.

I'm not even going to go there.  Especially since the last time I did that, I spoke about 5 days too soon. 

And I'm definitely not going to talk about getting a dog again.  Even though we did run into a lovely Weimaraner on the board walk the other week.  And I did have the best conversation with her owners.  And I may have already found a breeder that I want to look into... whenever we're ready.  And we sorta kinda have our dog name already picked out ... and a back-up name, and another back-up name... Nope, not even going to talk about getting a dog right now.

No, this post is all about how much I'm enjoying fitting into my OLLLLDDD jeans.  And having more time to play with my hair, or maybe just wash it more often, and actually using that tube of mascara.  About how much fun meal planning, grocery shopping and cooking has become (even with 3 little ones in tow) now that I can put more effort into it.  And just maybe about how my husband has complimented my meals more times than I can count these past few weeks.  About how I even got a girls' night out last week.  And of course, about how much I just LOVE the 9 month mark, its milestone so pointed in my life these past few years.

And it's also about this amazing little girl who has completely stolen all of our hearts... over and over again!

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Someone's learning how to blow kisses!
And how I want 5 more just like her.

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And how to clap her hands!
Or maybe just one more a little like her.


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And how to cruise around in the walker.
 
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And maybe how to open drawers and make a royal mess of the kitchen!

Snap, did I just say that?


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Just kidding.

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Maybe.

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Right?

Stop me now readers.  Because really, I just don't have time for "what could be's" right now.  We decided to celebrate the ninth month with a big 'ol pile of house guests.  In other words, I've been too busy to think about babies.  Last night we said goodbye to the 17th and 18th guests we have had within 10 days time.  And while it was a fun run, today we're gonna take it easy and just stick with the essentials.  Like removing old, chipped toenail polish, washing a load of toddler underwear and attempting to keep my boys in separate rooms because I REFUSE to determine just whose turn it is to play with the Lego train one more time this morning!!  Anyway, where was I?  Oh yeah, babies.  Wait, no I wasn't.  Okay, goodbye!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Makin' waves and catchin' rays

We have guests coming this weekend.  I have an entire house to clean, food to prep and activities to plan.  So of course, the natural thing to do is ignore my list and sit down to blog my final thoughts on last week's vacation.

First things first, can I just say how excited I am that my big little guy just loves the ocean?

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Up until last week he was a little apprehensive of big waves. But thanks to the multitude of "big boys" that were around to lend a hand, Jack spent a large portion of his time in the water. He even learned how to dunk his head. Jack's love language is "words of affirmation" so we all made sure to tell him how impressed we were and he made sure to tell us all that he was "so brave."

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Jude went in the water too. Poor thing got wiped out with Poppa once, but I was happy to see it didn't scar him for life. I refuse to take my boys out in the water by myself. Once beyond where the waves crash I can barely stand and the last thing I'd want is to be responsible for a wipe out and have a child never trust me again. But that also meant every time I tried to cool off one of my guys would be standing at the water's edge with a sad look on his face, pleading to join mama.

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And then there's Julia. Still not a fan. If I even walked to the edge and she felt a spray of sea water on her legs she's start clawing at my shoulder and gripping my swimsuit.

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I confess, I did make her put her toes in a few times. She cried. Oh well. I don't want to be "that mom" but I also don't want to encourage fear in my kiddos. By the last day at the beach she was able to stand toes in the lapping water as long as I held her close and constantly whispered sweet nothings in her ear. See, so not "that mom." The rest of the time, she lounged in her pontoon.

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Or we took turns holding her under the umbrella and making her giggle.

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Lia can really turn on the charm. She does this thing, when she notices you looking her way, kinda tilts her head, smiles shyly and bats her eyes, and if she's really feeling bold she'll even throw in one of her "hails" ... And she had plenty of guys to practice on this week.

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She's fully aware that we all find her completely irresistable!

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We really had perfect weather. There was one rainy morning in which we just took a little more time getting around for the beach. Poppa and I took the boys for a bike ride. It was my first time riding a bike with a kid on the backseat. Shoulda got a picture. But I was concentrating on pedaling and not stopping EVER for risk of falling.

Another day we got kicked off the beach early for thunder. Lots of thunder in the distance, but only a handful of raindrops where we were.  We decided to take the party out on the deck where we were delivered peanuts and bottles of water by Jack, petted a lovely little caterpillar...

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And entertained by this girl.

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Heyyyy!!!

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(No "future cheerleader" comments please.)

After long days at the beach we kept most of the evenings low key. Like spending time on the deck reading books and watching the sun set.

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The boys went crabbing a few times and us ladies stayed back for a "chick flick." This year it was "The Magic of Ordinary Day." Dontcha just love that title, might have to borrow it for a blog post sometime.

For the mighty Fourth of July we walked a few feet down to the beach, faced our chairs north and waited ... patiently.

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In the meantime, Mr. Landon caught a fish.

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And Poppa caught a shark.

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And Jude caught a few interesting looks.

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No pictures of the fireworks though because I was too busy manning children and Uncle Jared never posts photos for me to steal.

We weren't complete bums though. We did venture out on the town one evening. We regretted it at about 9pm when everyone had to go to the bathroom (again) at the same time, and we waited in line to get ice cream and for some reason Jack decided he DID NOT want sprinkles (I know, right?) but it was already too late and he thought the entire block should be aware that he did not want sprinkles...

But before then it went okay. I mean, there were 8 adults and 3 kids, that should be manageable right? South Bethany is close to Rehobeth and Ocean City, both which have excellent board walks. But we stuck close with Bethany's little downtown and I'm totally happy with that. I have two stores that I like to visit each year - the silver shop with cool, cheap jewelry and the beachy trinket store that you could spend a year in and still never see all the stuff that's tucked away on those shelves. We hit up both and then thought the kids deserved a break at the arcade.

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Arcardes are so funny. I mean, really. Have they changed at all in the past 30 years?

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Love how Jude is hanging on to Jack's shirt. :)
We ended up with a big ole pile of tickets that purchased us a very tiny pile of junky toys, most of which are already broken, and two happy little boys. That's what counts, right?

I had one final item on my vacation wishlist ... a family photo shoot. You know how that goes.

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Jack decided he did not want his photo taken and that all of posterity should be aware of it ... forever.

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This is what I had pictured in my mind, and this is what I got.

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Oh well, I tried.

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And, what was actually a lighting test, turned out to be a special treat. A picture of me. All by myself. Rare indeed. Look, there's not even a child grazing my skirt. Sometimes I forget that girl even exists.

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Just goes to show you that you never know what's going to happen on vacation!
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