Monday, August 11, 2014

Things you do with just one kid

Glancing at my blog, you'd think the only things we've done this summer are the beach vacation and Joci's birthday.  Trust me, there's been so much more amongst those two activities, especially during Jon's time off between jobs, but maybe I'll get to that another time.  Because this is Grandy Camp week!

Bye kids!
We met up with Marmie and Poppa at a Chick-Fil-A between our houses last Saturday.  The kids were driving Jon and I a bit bonkers that day, so we decided to hurry up and pack and leave early.  Since our time here in Maryland is limited, we're trying to see the local sites.  So we headed for Prettyboy Reservoir.  Probably not something I'd make a special trip for but it was a lovely stop on our journey north.  The most exciting part was when a police helicopter hovered right over the dam and waved to the kids.  (I was nursing the baby in the car and missed snapping a picture.)



The original plan was to send just the boys to PA for a week since Julia had already had her Grandy Camp experience.  But Marmie called a few days before and suggested they just take all three.  After thinking long and hard, Jon and I decided we could spare our 2 year old for a few more days this summer ... ha, just kidding.  We immediately said yes, please and then got right to scheming all we'd do during our week of "just one kid."

First things first, Mama needed a sugar detox.  I was going to wait until after the kids left, since I've heard the first few days are really miserable, but I didn't want the 10 day limit to run into our upcoming trip to PA and Knoebels (an incredibly detox unfriendly location).  So I started earlier, suffered through days one through three, and then felt great by the time we waved goodbye to the kids.
The morning of Grandy Camp, they certainly did their part to make say goodbye a bit easier!
We started off with cleaning the house.  And then we made it to church super early the next morning, followed by brunch at one of our favorite local restaurants.  Then we decided to actually stop (instead of just drive by like we usually do) at my favorite antique and consignment store.  We had so much fun exploring all the nooks and crannies without having to worry about where all the little people were hiding.


She is totally enjoying the one-on-one time!
We ended up leaving with two tiny tea spoons, for Lia's tea parties and a big steamer trunk that had been painted turquoise.  This was supposed to be part of our scheme for redoing the girls' room but we found out, a few days later, that it wasn't the right dimensions.  We don't really have a need for a turquoise trunk in any other room in our house, so if you're in the market for one, just let me know!

She's super-thrilled to finally visit Uncle Jared and Aunt Kylee's tiny-awesome city flat!
On Sunday evening we crossed another item off our bucket list--exploring Baltimore.  We met up with our favorite newlyweds (who just celebrated their first anniversary on Sunday, I might add), Jared and Kylee, and they showed us around their beloved Charm City.  Honestly, I didn't know Baltimore had so much to offer.  It is legitimately "charming," friends.  We walked around Fells Point, ducked in a few non-kid-friendly shops (because we could) and enjoyed some amazing gelato. I haven't had gelato since I was in England 9 years ago.  I think I'm going to make it my new craving and the perfect excuse to make a visit to downtown Annapolis at least once this summer.

Pardon the lack of (quality) pictures.  Just imagine streets of brick row houses with stone carvings and beautiful, flowering window boxes.

We happened to be where the happy couple got engaged last year, so of course a re-enaction was necessary!
We had dinner reservations at Parts and Labor, a new butcher shop and restaurant in Remington.  I told Jared I wanted something as paleo as possible and he delivered, although our visit to Dangerously Delicious Pies for dessert afterwards was decidedly the end of any serious effort on my part.  Anyway, back to P&L.  We loved it--from the renovated former garage atmosphere, to the open-fire grill, to the bearded, bespectacled, skinny-leg-jeaned waiters, and locally-sourced vittles, all was excellent.  And of course, the food.  They recommend eating family-style and that sounded just right to us, so we all got to sample about half of the menu--pickled eggs and beets, blue cheese with blackberry jam and mustard, summer vegetable salad, braised greens, marinated cucumbers, summer squash, and then the real reason we came--sausages, pork belly, steaks ... It was all outstanding.



I can eat, hold a feverish baby, and snap pictures over my shoulder all at the same time!
The only downfall to our evening was in the form of our little darling, the one that got left behind in Maryland that week, and who arrived in Baltimore that day with a blazing fever.  We found out later that Joci was suffering from hand, foot, and mouth disease.  It wasn't a bad case, but she did have a high fever and red throat.  And the poor little thing was obviously uncomfortable.  She was a trooper, but preferred to spend her suffering hours in mama's arms.  So except for the 10 minutes that Jon held her so that I could visit the restroom and cut my meat, I held a sleeping baby for the entire dinner.  I mean, I can't expect Grandy Camp to change EVERYTHING.



Joci seemed better the next day so we went ahead with yet another favorite kid-less (or one-kid) activity--IKEA!  We actually did have a purpose in going here, although simply not having kids along is reason enough to enjoy a long, leisurely stroll through Swedish decor-land.  After a few bad nights in a row of trying to put three kids to sleep in one room, we decided it was time for a change.  We had planned to have Joci and Julia sharing a room long before now, but Little Miss Up-At-Night has put a wrinkle in our plans.  I'm starting to think that Joci will be going to Kindergarten before she starts sleeping through the night for good, so we decided to move ahead with Operation Girl Merge.

Before.

During. 
Sorta-after, there's still some work to be done!
Julia has a knack for keeping her brothers up at night and for getting them up early in the morning, so it only makes sense that we pair her with the other little person that hates to sleep.  Unfortunately, the "girls' room" (as we can now officially call it!!) is the smallest in the house.  And while we could have fit a crib and Lia's toddler bed in it, there wouldn't have been room for much else.  I had this grand idea to Google "bunk bed over crib" and apparently it's a popular thing to do these days.  So the rest is history.  We bought Lia a bunk bed, Joci a new crib (that we could cut the bottom legs off of) and spent the next few nights building and painting beds.  There is much more to say and do about this room so I'll save the rest for another time.

Before.
With Lia out of the boys' lair it freed up an entire wall of space.  A few months ago, we had moved all of Jack's Legos to the guest room and rearranged the furniture in there to give him room to play.  It was nice for a time, as it gave him a place to spread out and spend hours, for real, hours (!!!) building Legos.  But Jon and I weren't crazy about the new guest room set-up.  Nor were we crazy about the amount of effort it took on our part to get our son to clean up his messes at the end of the day.  So after one particularly demanding evening we threw up our hands with dramatic flair, said "That's it!" and closed the Lego room.

The boys hadn't even packed their Grandy Camp bags before Jon had the guest room vacuumed, rearranged, and the Legos all boxed up.  Of course, it couldn't be for good.  We just love Legos too much in this house, and I certainly prefer my oldest to spend hours building and inventing than in front of the TV.  So we decided to turn Julia's old corner into a Lego storage and building area.  Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.

She loves to mix up all the Legos!

In other, less exciting, ventures in parenting only one child, Joci had the pleasure of both her mom and dad attending her one year check-up.  That's when the doctor noticed her red throat and slight fever.  And although her weight is satisfactory, it's not great.  I've never seen a baby dislike eating as much as this girl.  So in addition to her heart, we're also praying for Joci's palate.  I'm happy to nurse her for a while longer, but I'd prefer to no longer be her sole sustenance.

She loved this smoothie! ... and by "love" I mean she took about 3 sips of it.
Since Joci likes to throw anything I put in front of her, we took advantage of the absence of other picky-eaters and ate a lot of fancy food, such as Balsamic Pepper Rump steak with cleaning-out-the-pantry Tomato Avocado Salad and potatoes.


And we ate spicy food, like this Pineapple Braised Pork Loin, which then became Moroccan Cauliflower "Rice" the second night since we actually had leftovers for once!



Don't be fooled though, we also enjoyed eating out a lot more since it was basically just the two of us.

And while I didn't get to start making a quilt this past week, like I had hoped, I did manage to sort through the kids fall clothes for consignment and their massive collection of toys.  It was so nice to be able to throw things away without someone pulling it out of the trash a few minutes later.  I also reorganized the book shelf and donated a pile of books and my kids are none the wiser.  And so far, no one has mentioned the missing toys.

This is my view every day, especially around 4:00 or when I'm trying to make dinner.
Since the little darling wasn't feeling so well, she was extra clingy all week.  So when she fell asleep in the car and stayed that way when I slid her into the Ergo, I scored myself a long, peaceful visit to the library.  A visit where I actually got to look through every recipe book shelf, peruse through the magazine racks, and scan through the DVDs.  It was unreal.


And as a thank you for allowing me this one small luxury, I decided to frame a few pictures of our gal ... and her older siblings.  I haven't done a very good job of updating our photo frames since I had my second kid, you know how those things go!  So although all my office frames are still of a newborn Jack, at least the girls now have pictures of themselves in their room and Jude's face is in half the pictures in the boys' room.  I would say I'm all caught up on photo stuff for a while but the sad truth is I still have yet to make myself a wedding album.  Maybe we can save that for next Grandy Camp?



Speaking of next Grandy Camp, what are the chances I can have this girl potty-trained by the time she's 2?  I won't have another baby to take care of, so I think the future looks promising.  I mean, how amazing would it be to not have ANY kids for a few days next summer??  Then again, perhaps I'm assuming too much of Marmie and Poppa.  They did a fantastic job keeping our offspring busy (more on their activities in the next post), and I know firsthand how much work four kids can be!


But for now, we're all back together again.  We didn't get home until after midnight last night, so thankfully the kids all slept in this morning.  But within minutes of rising, the boys were asking me approximately 307 questions an hour.  The house is right back to being an absolute mess and I'm already tired of asking these kids to keep the noise down.  But I wouldn't have it any other way.  It was a nice break only have one kid last week, but I'm happy to have my little family whole again!

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