Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Busy week here getting ready to enter the world of "parents of school age children!"  But we're not there yet.  So I thought I'd go ahead and catch you up on the rest of the summer.  The rest of this beautiful, light and airy summer.

We've had an idyllic year here in Maryland--that chilly, crisp fall; snow-laden winter; colorful spring; and now an easy, breezy summer.  I think it's only been in the 90s a few random days since July.  Which means less AC and more windows open. And more windows open means I can catch the kids in an outdoors altercation before it escalates to neighbor-alarming proportions.

My kids love olives ... and olive juice.

We had a girls vs. boys soccer game.  All was going well until my teammate got upset that I didn't want to hold her hand while playing ...

My kids are really in to taking pictures with my phone, like hundreds and hundreds of pictures.
Weather aside, I think one of the best aspects of this summer was Jon's job coming to a close.  It was a good run, a great opportunity, and certainly beneficial to his career, but we were all ready to move on.  And the difference in the atmosphere of our home between his last Friday of work and his first Monday of vacation was palpable.  Not to mention the amount of projects that are getting done around the house.

This is not the sandbox.  This is way better than the sandbox.

We call it the (un)sandbox.

Lovely Maryland soil for you, explains my failure of a garden.
Jon had two weeks of vacation in between jobs.  And then another few days of being stuck in transition, waiting for paperwork to go through, so we had lots of family time in July!  Our membership to the Baltimore Aquarium expired at the end of the month so we got in one last visit as a family!

I also took advantage of having another adult around to pamper myself with some visits to the doctor and dentist.  Okay, so not really pampering.  Turns out, you really shouldn't let two years go by without visiting the dentist.  Oops.

This child.

There's nothing she won't climb.

Big deal--girlfriend can climb up the Chick-Fil-A play place! (Getting down is a whole other story!)

Climbing into the dishwasher has lost it's thrill, now she tries to reach the second drawer.
We also finally got the kids in to see the cardiologist.  It was a family event, which was fine with me since Jon was there to help!  So Jack, Jude, and Julia all got EKGs and heart sonograms.  After a very long morning where we got to practice lots of patience, we found out that Jack and Julia have great hearts, and Jude just has a small flap that never closed in his heart.  Apparently somewhere around 20% of the population has this same condition and it's not really a big deal, unless he decides to be a pilot or scuba diver.  Ironically, Jude comes from a family of scuba divers and as a military family, flying planes is always an option.  But we'll just wait and cross those bridges when we get to them.

Jack watching Jude's sonogram ... or the movie playing just underneath the screen.
 Joci was due back for her six month heart-check too.  Can you believe it's been that long?  The hole in her heart doesn't appear to have changed, it's still considered "moderate to large."  Although the right side of her heart has grown larger as a result (which is what they expected to happen.)  So far, as she is still symptom free, they're going to delay surgery for when she's a little older.  And in the meantime we'll just keep praying that the hole closes on its own!

This was the first summer since moving here that we stayed home for the 4th of July.  We got to watch our own small town's parade that morning, and view the fireworks from the soccer fields at the Naval Academy that night.  It was a great show that, of course, the kids loved!  At least the ones that were awake.  Joci slept on my chest throughout the entire show.  And I'm not sure how much of it Jude actually saw.  Our little conversationist would not STOP TALKING the entire evening. He wanted to know how the fireworks worked, who was doing it, why Daddy wasn't wearing a muscle shirt, what was in Mommy's pocket, and everything else under the sun.  To think, fireworks used to such a lovely time of quiet and reflection ...

One highlight of our summer was a visit to Philadelphia to meet up with some of my college roommates/friends and catch up with our families.  We spent an entire day at the Philadelphia Zoo.  I haven't been there since I was in high school and it is certainly one of the better zoos I've visited!

Road trip!

A rare species of monkey.

Not in the mood for photos!
 Since trips like this don't happen very often we made the most of our day--wearing the kids out at the zoo, driving through Valley Forge park while they caught a quick nap, touring George Washington's Headquarters there once they had woken up, and then grabbing dinner at Buca di Beppo--a favorite restaurant of Jon and mine with many fond memories!

Trying to entertain the littles while waiting for seats.

I think one of the boys' favorite aspects of our summer was swimming lessons!  We finally got around to properly introducing our two oldest to the water.  Rather than trying to manage two boys in two different groups, we decided to pay a few extra bucks for private lessons.  So Jack and Jude were soon great friends with "Miss Sue."  Our first session was only four lessons (we'll pick back up again later this year after soccer), but I was truly surprised at how quickly and easily they picked up new skills.  And how much courage they gained in just a short amount of time!

By our last lesson Jude was going underwater and Jack was jumping and swimming in the deep end!  I guess we have some water babies here!  So we were happy to be invited to a friend's house and pool last week where we could all join in the boys' water fun!

One of a million "Mom, look at me!" moments.

As for me, I love family time.  It doesn't have to be big or expensive, it can be as simple as everyone running to the grocery store together.  Because when you're used to doing things alone with four little ones, having another adult around is a welcome change!  But there are a few things that I simply cannot do on my own with kids.  One of them is biking.  It's hard enough for me to talk all four on a walk (and keep us all together and uninjured) but add some wheels to the mix and I'm out of my league.  So one of my fondest memories from this summer was an evening at our favorite "farm park" where all four kids had their own wheels (okay, so Joci was in the stroller) and we could just set them free!

Something's not quite right here ...

We don't exactly have the best streets in our neighborhood.  So I was shocked at how well Jack does on his bike when given a long, smooth stretch of asphalt.  And Jude picked things up rather quickly as well!  So by the time we reached the halfway point and turned around, family time turned to boy and girl time.  Jon ran ahead to keep up with the boys, who can't help but race and compete every chance they get.  And I lagged behind, pushing a stroller and pulling a tricycle... until Lia didn't feel like riding anymore.  Then I was pushing a stroller, pulling a tricycle, and carrying a toddler on my back.

Meanwhile, the boys were way up ahead enjoying a game of soccer.  I guess I should feel honored that the men in my life are so confident in my abilities that they don't even think twice when I go "missing" for 30 minutes ...

So anyway, throw in lots of cool mornings sipping hot coffee by the deck, while holding a smiley baby (because she's happiest at 6am when she's the most well-rested!), lot of hours spent building forts in the backyard and playing in the (un)sandbox, countless moments cooling off in the kiddie pool and sprinkler, numerous trips to the grocery store and Target where we garner lots of stares and comments (both positive and negative), miles and miles of walks in the neighborhood and farm park, and I think that brings us to the end of August--or Augtober as we've been saying 'round these parts.

Always an experience taking this child shopping.  I was looking for school shoes for Jack, turned around, and she already had these glimmery, hot pink boots on her (wrong) feet and was shoving her flip-flops into the box on the shelf.

And just try to tell her she's not buying the Hannah Montana umbrella at Goodwill!

I now keep a stockpile of dry brushes and empty make-up to hand to her during our Sunday morning beauty routine.
 Jon is back to work now.  Actually, he's currently working a night shift which has been stretching our family in new ways!  We're still waiting to hear whether these new and funky hours will become a permanent change in our lifestyle or if we'll go back to regular, daytime hours sometime soon.  You know that Coast Guard lifestyle, semper paratus, "always waiting" ... er, I mean "always prepared!"  Right.  That.  Tootaloo!
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